Northern Ireland

Belfast airports: Two tonnes of food seized so far in 2019

Goods seized from a suitcase coming from India
Image caption Goods seized from a suitcase coming from India

Bringing home a little taste of the local delicacy is a temptation for many on holiday.

But foreign food and plants can pose a risk to the agri-food sector.

Since the beginning of 2019, more than two tonnes of animal products have been seized at Belfast's International and City airports.

"If we feel there is a risk to the animal health sector in Northern Ireland, we will take the items," said Jonathan Guy, from DAERA.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Veterinary Service monitor goods being imported into Northern Ireland.

In June alone, it seized 300kg of food.

Image caption This clarified butter, from India, is considered high risk

The food is stowed in freezers until it can be destroyed.

Many of the seizures involve pork from China and Eastern Europe, where a devastating pig disease is circulating.

"The priority is meat and dairy products," said Mr Guy, of the DAERA Veterinary Service.

"They present the most risk and we will always try to find them.

"There are allowances for some movement of products of animal origin around the world and we apply those limits, provided there are no risks. For example, fish can be brought in, if it's clean and gutted, to a level of 20kg."

Image caption Jonathan Guy, from DAERA Veterinary Service, said meat and dairy pose the biggest risk

So, what happens when people have their goods taken upon arrival in Northern Ireland?

"People don't like having products removed from them, but when we explain the justification and the reasoning for it - public health; animal health and plant heath risks - usually people come round and hand over the goods," said Mr Guy.

The message is really simple: Try the exotic if you will, but do not take it home.