Pig keepers warned not to feed kitchen scraps to pigs due to African swine fever risk
The warning comes after the risk level of African swine fever entering the UK was raised over the summer following spread of the disease in Eastern and Central Europe.
There has never been a case of African swine fever in the UK and it does not affect humans, but it is potentially fatal to pigs.
If the disease were to reach the UK it could have a devastating effect on our export market and would also mean the humane culling of pigs on infected premises to prevent further spread.
Keepers are being reminded that it is illegal to feed catering waste of any description or domestic food waste to farm animals in the UK, including pigs kept as pets, as some of the outbreaks of African swine fever in Europe have been attributed to wild boar or domestic pigs consuming contaminated pork or pork products.
Viruses such as foot and mouth disease could also be introduced to the UK through food products. This includes food from vegetarian kitchens, as there is still a risk of cross contamination from products of animal origin such as milk.
Strict hygiene measures are essential in preventing disease – people should not take meat or meat products into areas where pigs are kept and should only eat food in designated areas such as staff rooms or the farm kitchen. Pig keepers, farm staff and anyone in contact with pigs should wash their hands before and after eating or preparing food.
The UK suffered the consequences of pigs being fed illegal waste food in the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001.
That outbreak is thought to have originated from pigs being fed catering waste containing the virus, which came from outside the UK. The outbreak resulted in the destruction of more than 10 million cattle and sheep and cost the UK many millions of pounds. ■