Minister Michael Creed has issued advice to the public about a deadly pig disease called African Swine Fever; the risk it poses to the pig sector in Ireland; and what Irish people and visitors to Ireland can do to prevent the introduction of this very serious disease into the Country.
African Swine Fever is spreading across the world with serious consequences for pig farmers, meat processors and exporters in the affected countries. Commenting on the risk of African Swine Fever being introduced into Ireland, the Minister advised that “while we have some advantages in that we are an island, there is no room for complacency here”. The Minister emphasised that the disease is not a threat to human health and meat is completely safe to eat but 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.
In terms of preventing the introduction of this disease into Ireland, the Minister advised that “the virus that causes ASF is quite virulent and can spread by accidental acts of individuals, in particular, inappropriate disposal of waste food”. The virus can survive for months in pork and pork products including cured meats such as ham and salami. The Minister is urging Irish people and visitors to Ireland not to take the risk of bringing meat products into Ireland from affected countries:
“Don’t bring back your sandwich; don’t bring back your salami”, the Minister urged. The Minister reminded all those who keep pigs, even one or two pigs in their back garden “not to feed waste food that contains meat or meat products to pigs. A simple ham sandwich, salami or meat product could bring this disease to our doorstep and it would be devastating.”
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.