Don't bring home any illegal foods, holidaymakers warned
Christmas holidaymakers have been warned not to bring home any illegal food products.
More than 1,000 kilograms of illegal food products were seized at the two main Northern Ireland airports in 2006.
Agriculture officials have warned that bringing back novel or exotic food products from some countries can introduce serious disease and unwanted pests, which could threaten the health of Ulster's livestock and crops.
Foreign produce can be instrumental in spreading agricultural diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, swine fever and avian flu.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development warned that it places strict restrictions on foodstuffs that can be imported and anyone travelling to Northern Ireland should check the rules on food imports before leaving the UK.
A spokesman said: "Illegal goods will be seized and destroyed with no compensation and is likely also to lead to long delays, prosecution and a fine."
Officials also warned that eating unfit products could lead to serious health risks.
Since 1998, consignments of illegal food imports from more than 80 non-EU countries have been seized at Ulster's airports.
DARD warned that its portal inspection branch keeps a permanent inspection presence at all main ports and airports in order to stem the flow of illegal imports of animals, animal products and plant products, including fish, meat and vegetables.
The spokesman said: "If unsure of the regulations, please ask a portal inspector to take a 'If in doubt leave it out' leaflet. A publicity blitz at one of the airports is planned for early January."
For detailed information on what can and cannot be brought into Northern Ireland, call the DARD portal inspection office on 9445 2577 or visit the website at www.dardni.gov.uk.