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Minister Creed re-emphasises the need for action in terms of protecting the Irish pig industry from African swine fever

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., wishes to strongly re-emphasise the need for airline travellers to be aware of the risk posed by African Swine Fever (ASF) to the Irish pig industry and the Irish economy if meat or meat products from affected animals is brought into the country. His warning comes on foot of reports from a number of countries (Australia, Japan and most recently Northern Ireland) regarding the detection of traces of the ASF virus in consignments of meat seized at airports.


The ASF virus is robust and can survive for weeks or months in chilled, frozen or preserved pig meat or meat products such as hams and salamis. Outbreaks of ASF have been attributed to the feeding of infected food waste (swill) to pigs, particularly in Asia, where swill feeding has only been recently prohibited. Feeding of food waste that contains or that may have been in contact with meat or meat products has been prohibited in Ireland since 2001.


The importation of meat or meat products into Ireland from non-EU countries is banned. Department staff, in conjunction with the Irish Customs Service, carry out checks on passenger luggage at our airports to detect consignments of meat and meat products.  These checks involve the deployment of risk-based searches of passenger luggage and the use of scanning equipment to detect meat or meat products in passenger luggage. Additionally a sniffer dog is deployed at Dublin Airport.  In the first three months of 2019, 893 kg of illegal meat was seized by DAFM officials at Dublin airport. This product was disposed of under DAFM supervision in accordance with rules relating to the high- risk animal by-products (Category 1 material).


DAFM has also stepped up its awareness raising activities including the deployment of novel alternatives to the traditional posters at airports and ports. Checks at airports are only one component of the response needed by all concerned to address the current risk posed by ASF. The critical control measure that will protect Ireland’s valuable pig industry, is the implementation, by farmers, both commercial and hobby, of strict biosecurity measures on farm. Farmers must ensure that people do not have access to their pigs and that pigs cannot get access to material containing meat and meat products. Farmers, in particular hobby farmers, are reminded that waste food containing meat and meat products must never be fed to pigs.


Minister Creed concluded by saying that We can keep African Swine Fever out of Ireland, if everyone including farmers, veterinary practitioners, industry representatives and members of the public play their part’.


Notes for editors:


  1. African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious and usually fatal viral disease of pigs.
  2. ASF has no implications for human health
  3. ASF has very significant implications for trade in pigs, pork and pork products as well as for animal health and welfare.
  4. ASF first appeared in the EU in 2014 and since then cases have been detected in wild boar and/or domestic pigs in 9 EU Member States.
  5. ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs have been reported in China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia and more recently, Hong Kong, North Korea and Laos.
  6. The presence of populations of wild boar have played a significant part in the epidemiology of ASF in affected countries. Ireland does not have a wild boar or feral pig population and measures are in place to ensure such animals are not introduced into Ireland.

Actions taken by DAFM to mitigate against the risk of ASF

  1. The importation of meat or meat products into Ireland from non-EU countries is banned.
  2. DAFM, in cooperation with the Irish Customs Service, carry out risk-based controls on passenger baggage at airports to ensure serious animal diseases are not inadvertently introduced into Ireland through the import of animal products from affected countries.
  3. DAFM is supporting pig farmers develop enhanced on-farm biosecurity using an internationally recognised Biocheck tool which involves an on-farm assessment – coordinated by Animal Health Ireland and delivered by specially trained private veterinary practitioners.
  4. DAFM has a specific ASF communications campaign that was significantly strengthened on foot of the diagnosis of cases in wild boar in Belgium. This awareness programme is targeted at advising of the risk as well as measures that stakeholders should take to prevent the disease entering Ireland. The following are some of the elements of this intensive communications campaign:
  5. Circulation of regular information on ASF to targeted stakeholders to keep them informed of the current situation in Europe and the risk to Ireland.
  6. Production of disease factsheets on ASF for both veterinary practitioners and farmers.
  7. Circulation of letters regarding ASF to all pig farmers as part of the annual pig census.
  8. Production of a multilingual poster warning of the dangers of visitors or staff returning from affected regions of the EU and bringing back meat or meat products onto Irish pig farms that was circulated to commercial pig farmers.
  9. Circulation of on-farm biosecurity advice detailing measures that can be taken to prevent entry of the disease in the case of both commercial farmers and non-commercial ‘backyard’ pig producers.
  10. Display of posters advising members of the public of the risks of ASF at airports, ferries and ports.
  11. Interviews on local and national radio.
  12. Circulation of tailored biosecurity leaflets to livestock hauliers operating internationally, and hunters who may be travelling from ASF affected countries.
  13. Circulation of specific advice regarding ASF to general hauliers operating internationally, in conjunction with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
  14. Publication of articles in prominent veterinary and farming publications.
  15. Use of Twitter to provide information in relation to ASF, and biosecurity advice.
  16. Dedicated area on the DAFM website where information in relation to ASF and risk reduction can be found.







Date Released: 16 July 2019