by Anicia Antoine
The Ministry of Agriculture has increased the monitoring and surveillance of the importation of meat products to ensure conformity to public health guidelines and procedures. Travelers are advised to exercise caution and avoid transporting pork products, as they pose several animal health risks as diseases can be transmitted.
Animal Health Officer, Columbus Philippe, encourages the general public to obtain an import permit to ensure the product is fit for consumption and allows for the importation of meat and meat products with minimal risk to the animal and human populations.
“The risk is that the importation of these items may introduce foreign diseases into the country. It presents a very high risk to the animal health situation here.”
Mr. Philippe emphasized the importance of public vigilance in the fight against African Swine Fever (ASF), which is on the rise in the Caribbean. The deadly viral disease affects domestic and feral swine of all ages. While it poses no risk to human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans, its discovery in Saint Lucia would have a significant impact on livestock producers, communities, and the economy.
“The African Swine Fever can be very devastating to our animal population, especially swine. The presence of this disease can wipe out our entire population. So the more people that we have that can be vigilant the better.”
Persons are asked to contact their local extension office or the Veterinary and Livestock Services Division if they need further clarification on the correct protocols when importing meat.