‘Risk of African swine fever spreading to Ireland’ – Creed

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has indicated this evening, May 23, that a risk has been posed with regard to the spreading of African swine fever to Ireland.

The minister has issued advice to members of the public about the deadly disease and the risk it poses to the pig sector in Ireland; he has also advised Irish people and visitors to Ireland about what they can do to prevent the introduction of “this very serious disease into the country”.

Meanwhile, African swine fever continues to spread across the world with serious consequences for pig farmers, meat processors and exporters in the affected countries.

Minister Creed pointed out this evening that “while we have some advantages in that we are an island, there is no room for complacency here”.

‘Enormous impact’

He went on to highlight that the disease is not a threat to human health and that meat is completely safe to eat.

However, he added, “an outbreak of the disease would have an enormous impact on our pig industry”.

Ireland has almost 1.7 million pigs and pig meat exports were worth €666 million in 2018.

Creed continued: “The virus that causes the disease is quite virulent and can spread by the accidental acts of individuals and, in particular, where there is an inappropriate disposal of waste food.

“The virus can survive for months in pork and pork products including cured meats such as ham and salami. Therefore, I am urging Irish people and visitors to Ireland not to take the risk of bringing meat products into Ireland from affected countries; that means you do not bring back your sandwich and don’t bring back your salami.”

‘On the doorstep’

The minister went on then to warn those who keep pigs – even those who may have one or two pigs in their back garden – not to feed waste food that contains meat or meat products to the animals.

A simple ham sandwich, salami or meat product could bring this disease to our doorstep and it would be devastating.

He continued: “Only persons registered with the department and issued with valid pig herd numbers are allowed to own or trade in pigs. All those who keep pigs are reminded not to allow anyone to bring meat products onto their premises or to come in contact with their pigs while wearing clothes they were wearing on hunting trips or visits to pig-related businesses in affected countries.

“Working together we can keep this serious disease out of Ireland. We can protect our pigs, our farmers, our businesses and our rural communities.”