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Food Imports Campaign in ICC

DATE: 9th November 2004

People at the ICC on Friday 5 November were left in no doubt about the risks of bringing back food from abroad, when a new government campaign came to the area.

The aim of the campaign by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is to raise awareness of the foods that cannot be legally brought back to the UK from outside the EU.

  • Dr. Yunes Teinaz
    Advisor to the ICC Director General, Hackney Senior Environmental Health Officer
  • Mr. Andrew Foster,
    Head of Environmental Health
    , London Borough of Hackney
  • Dr. Shuja Shafi
    Muslim Council of Britain, Consultant Microbiologist - The Health Protection Agency

The campaign highlights the rules and restrictions that travellers need to know before they travel abroad, so that they do not run the risk of breaking the law.



A mobile information unit was based in the ICC, in London on 5 November. Experienced staff were on hand with up-to-date information on the campaign and the laws behind it. Visitors were able to view a new public information film, due to be screened on national TV soon, and also acquaint themselves with a new website about the campaign. Leaflets and posters in several languages including Arabic, Chinese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu and English were also available.

Dr Yunes Teinaz, Health and Management Advisor (to the Director General of the London Central Mosque Trust and the Islamic Cultural Centre) and Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner said, "I was glad to see so many people taking an interest in the campaign. We all need to be made aware of the new regulations regarding food imports, as a great number of travellers tend to bring back food products, which have been given to them as gifts by family or friends. What makes this campaign more effective and accessible to the Muslim community is the fact that information was available in our own language".

Download Defra leaflet:

(English & Arabic version)

The campaign at the ICC was greatly welcomed by the Muslim community and the response was outstanding. People were genuinely interested in learning about the new rules now in place and many were readily sharing their own travel experiences with the staff.

The ICC was one of many stops on a national tour by the campaign’s roadshow following its official launch on 25 October 2004. At the launch, Food and Farming Minister Larry Whitty said:

“People may not see any harm in bringing food back to the UK when they return from a holiday or a business trip, but some foods may contain pests and diseases that threaten the health of our agricultural crops and livestock, as well as public health. Because of these risks, there are strict restrictions on foodstuffs brought back from countries outside the EU.

“I would urge everyone to check the rules before they leave the UK. If you are caught breaking them, then you may face long delays, prosecution and a fine.”

The mobile unit will visit more than 30 places up and down the UK including Birmingham, Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester and Brighton over the next six months.


Notes to Editors:

  • Controls on food imports are essential to protect public health and livestock and the government is committed to reducing the risks of disease entering the food chain via illegally imported food products. Measures to raise public awareness and improve preventative measures at the UK border and inland are backed by £25 million from 2003-06
  • The current legislation makes it illegal to bring back meat and milk-based products for personal use into the UK from countries outside the EU. Other restrictions depend largely on the country one is travelling from, the type of food products brought back and the quantity. Enforcement activity has also been stepped up at ports and airports. In 2003/04, Customs made over 16,000 seizures of illegally imported food, amounting to over 180 tonnes, were made.
  • For detailed information on products that can/cannot be brought into the UK, call the Defra helpline on 08459 33 55 77 or check the database on the Defra website at
  • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is responsible for policy issues relating to imports of products of animal origin, plants and plant products.

For more information about this event and images of the campaign launch and trailer or if you would like the unit to visit your local area, please contact Media Moguls on 020 8902 5575 or:

Ashnoor Pardhan 07801 295 225 /

Hetal Srivastava 07958 120 011 /

Sarbjit Atwal 07985 649 586 /