Ed Bedington Government controls on illegal meat imports have been branded "woefully inadequate" by the National Farmers' Union. To mark the first anniversary of the end of the foot and mouth epidemic the union surveyed 10,000 visitors to the UK. The project was designed to discover the level of control on imports of food products of the type strongly suspected of being the source of foot and mouth. The results revealed that only 4% of visitors questioned were given information on import restrictions and 98% failed to notice any information posters. NFU president Ben Gill said: "Farmers are angry that the government still seems not to take the issue of illegal food imports seriously. DEFRA's additional activity on detecting illegal imports comprises two sniffer dogs at London's Heathrow Airport to deal with the 219,000 bags arriving daily." The European Commission recently decided to ban personal meat imports from third countries, a move which NFU food standards chairman Michael Seals said puts pressure on the UK government. "The Commission recognises the threat posed by illegal imports. Farmers certainly do. The UK government says it does, but so far it has yet to inject sufficient resources to implement adequate controls." However, DEFRA rejected the NFU criticism, pointing out that in addition to piloting the use of sniffer dogs, the government was spending an additional #3.5m this year to cut illegal imports. Of that sum, #1.5m is funding additional enforcement officers. Food and farming minister Lord Whitty said that DEFRA had also launched the don't bring back more than you bargained for' campaign in July to build on the work British Embassy staff had done to raise awareness of the issue. He added: "A study of the use of dogs is a sensible place to start." {{MARKET EDGE }}