The PM recently indicated we are "in the home straight" as regards controlling and eradicating FMD. It is appropriate, then, to look at how the outbreak could have started and how to prevent future outbreaks. With this in mind, I visited Felixstowe port to see how the authorities enforce regulation and seek to prevent illegal shipments of meat and meat products entering the country. I was impressed by the co-ordination of the relevant authorities and by the facilities for checking container cargoes, which included cold stores and huge warehouses. At the centre of the operation is the computerised system, which is essential for locating containers and necessary to identify those for inspection. The variety of imported foodstuffs was astonishing and the contrast between the often simplistic descriptions on documentation. Whether this was to mislead, I could not say, but I am certain that more accurate wording should be used. The labelling of some cartons was also surprising ­ Produce of Russia' printed boldly on boxes of fish which were caught off Korea, frozen on factory ships and exported to the UK without going anywhere near Russia. Random checking of hundreds of thousands of containers would be unlikely to yield much, but clearly, putting greater effort and resources into intelligence, to enable focused and targeted inspections, would be more cost-effective. However, while many tonnes of illegal imports are confiscated every year, no prosecutions have been undertaken. The necessary proofs are difficult and costly to obtain and the penalties likely to be insignificant compared to the loss of the goods. It was an interesting visit and I came away much better informed for what will be an important debate in the new parliament. {{NEWS }}