Christianne Glossop is reminding pig keepers it is illegal to feed kitchen or catering waste, or meat or meat products, to their pigs as it risks introducing African swine fever to the UK.
African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs which is currently spreading westwards in continental Europe. The advice follows recent reports of the infection in wild boar in Belgium, the first in Western Europe.
The virus does not affect people but severe strains of the virus are usually fatal to pigs of any age.
The Chief Veterinary Officer is also urging pig keepers to practice enhanced biosecurity measures which are essential to safeguard against.
Chief Veterinary Officer Christianne Glossop said:
“African swine fever is a highly contagious infection of pigs and is currently spreading across Europe. The UK and Wales is currently free from ASF, but there is a constant risk of infection.
“If infection were to reach the UK, as well as serious effects on the health and welfare of infected pigs, it would have a devastating effect on our pork export market. It would also require the humane culling of all pigs on infected premises to prevent spread.
“We all have a role to play in preventing the introduction of African swine fever to the UK. That is why I am reminding pig keepers that it is illegal to feed kitchen or catering waste, or meat or meat products, to their pigs. I can also not stress enough the importance of practising enhanced biosecurity measures and I urge all pig keepers to review their biosecurity plans.”
Pig keepers must make sure anyone coming into contact with their pigs know they are not to feed catering waste of any description, domestic food waste, or meat and meat products to their pigs.
In addition to keepers of pigs, everyone can help to prevent the spread of this devastating disease by ensuring that food waste is disposed of appropriately so it cannot be accessed by pigs (or wild boar in areas where present).
This includes food from vegetarian kitchens, as there is still a risk of cross contamination. There is an especially high risk from pork produce originating from countries that are affected by ASF that have not been subject to official controls.
The ban on feeding food waste to pigs also helps to protect the UK from diseases such as foot and mouth disease.
Pig keepers are urged to report any concerns about the health of their pigs to their veterinary surgeon and are reminded that it is a legal requirement to notify any suspicions of ASF to the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately.