Disease: don’t bring it home from holiday

Date published: 20 June 2018


Holidaymakers are being warned about the risks of importing animal or plant disease to Northern Ireland.

It is illegal to bring certain food and plant products into the country. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is further urging anyone travelling abroad not to bring any animal or plant products home to avoid these risks.

Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey, said: “As we come into the holiday period, and many people are travelling abroad, we are again highlighting these risks.

“The greatest risk is to our agri-food industry and our environment, as any introduction of pests, diseases and non-native species can have a potentially devastating impact. Ecosystems can be disrupted with significant knock-on effects on agriculture and the local economy.

“Imports of meat or meat products, milk and other dairy products are banned from most countries outside the EU. Illegal products will be seized and destroyed and anyone caught carrying prohibited items risks prosecution and a fine.”

Diseases such as foot-and-mouth cause serious economic impacts and can be brought into Northern Ireland via infected products of animal origin. Animal-related products may also pose a risk to human health from diseases, residues or contaminants. Such diseases and pests can have a disastrous effect on livestock, crops or the environment.

Jim Crummie, Acting Director of Plant Health, added: “It is not just animal products which pose a danger, fruit and vegetables may also carry pests that can infect plants. We are asking people not to bring plants, seeds or plant products back from their holidays.

“It may seem innocent to take home an attractive flower, or some seeds for the garden, but, unknowingly, pests and diseases can be present. There is also a risk that non-native species may be introduced that can have potentially catastrophic consequences on agriculture, horticulture, forestry and the environment if unchecked.

“The simple message from us is: ‘Don’t risk it - leave it behind’. Please do not bring home plants, seeds, fruit, vegetables or flowers.”

For detailed information on what can and cannot be brought into Northern Ireland, call the DAERA Portal Inspection Office on: 028 9442 6822 or contact: aldergrove.portal@daera-ni.gov.uk.

You can also visit the nidirect website

DAERA maintains an inspection presence at all of Northern Ireland’s main ports and airports.

Notes to editors: 

1. Photo caption - Holidaymakers are reminded not to bring back animal or plant products from their travels. Colin McKnight from DAERA’s Planet Health branch underlines the simple message of ‘Don’t risk it’ when considering taking plants and flowers home. The message also extends to animal products, as pests, diseases and invasive species could have a devastating impact on the agri-food industry, and the environment.

2. Personal imports of meat or meat products and milk/dairy products are banned from most countries outside the EU. There are also strict controls on bringing the following products:

  • potatoes
  • plants
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • honey
  • eggs and egg products
  • certain fruit and vegetables

3. The same rules apply whether you are bringing these food items into Northern Ireland yourself, if a friend or a relative is bringing them as a gift, or if they are sent in the post.

4.  If you bring back banned items, or items in an amount that exceeds certain weight limits, all of the goods will be seized and destroyed.

5. The department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.

6. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.

7.  All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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