Cheerio to English food

UK animal products banned

Lovers of English sausages will have to do without for a while.

The Department of Agriculture has banned the importation of animals and animal products from the United Kingdom in response to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in that country.

Foot and Mouth Disease is a highly contagious – and sometimes fatal – virus that affects cloven-hoofed animals such as cows, pigs, goats and sheep. It rarely affects humans and it is not severe when it does.

Minister of Agriculture Kurt Tibbetts said the DoA decision was made to protect the livestock of the country.

‘The farming community and general public can be assured that the Government will take the necessary measures to keep the Cayman Islands free of this disease,’ he said.

The ban will affect all fresh meats and animal products, including many dairy products such as cheese.

Chief Agriculture and Veterinary Officer Dr. Alfred Benjamin said some dairy products that have gone through specific treatments such as heat and pasteurisation would be allowed. Certain canned meats and poultry products are also excluded from the ban.

In addition, the DoA also temporarily banned the importation of all live animals, including pet dogs and cats, from the UK. The ban follows the UK’s decision to halt the issuance of export health certificates on all live animals.

‘Dogs and cats are not susceptible to the disease, but they can transmit it on their coats and paws,’ Mr. Benjamin said.

People who took their pets with them to the UK for the summer will not be able to bring their pet back to Cayman right away.

Mr. Benjamin said he did not know how long the live animal ban would last.

‘I cannot even guess,’ he said, adding that the UK would likely set up a control process for exports of live animals after a thorough investigation into outbreak.

‘The UK is being very, very careful,’ Mr. Benjamin said. ‘There is a high economic significance of this disease in terms of its impact on the economy.’

To further protect against the spread of the disease in Cayman, all passengers arriving on flights from the UK will have to undergo bio-security, which will include the disinfection of passenger’s footwear and increased inspection and confiscation of food items in passenger’s luggage. Passengers will also be asked if they have visited a farm in the UK recently.

Mr. Benjamin said the disinfection of footwear will be done by having passengers traverse specially treated mats as they deplane.

Foster’s Food Fair IGA issued a press release on Monday, before the DoA had announced its ban, advising customers that it had cancelled all fresh flown-in products orders from the UK. Those products include sausages, bacon, cheeses, milk and yoghurts, said Marketing Supervisor Kevin Loughery.

‘People are not going to see the products they’re used to seeing,’ he said.

The ban will also affect local restaurants. David Doherty, chef at Fidel Murphy’s, said English meats are very popular at that restaurant.

‘This is a major problem for us,’ he said. ‘A lot of people come in for English breakfast, bangers and mash, sausage rolls, bacon rolls, black and white pudding. We won’t be able to get any of that stuff. There will be a lot of upset people.’

Mr. Doherty noted that the ban was coming at a particularly bad time, with the start of the English football season this Saturday. Since the game start at 7am, many people would want to order the English breakfast.

The good news is, at least one supplier has a large stock on hand of most English products. Dan Anderson of Cayman Imports said his company is in good shape with everything except sausages.

‘You can’t just buy a little bit when you order from the UK,’ he said. ‘You have to buy a lot to make it profitable.’

Although Cayman Imports has a large stock of meats like English bacon, it was just ordering another container of sausage, and now that shipment has been stopped for now. Mr. Anderson said his supplier in the UK was hopeful the ban could be lifted in about six weeks.

English sausage lovers will soon have to come up with an alternative to their traditional English breakfast. UK animal products have been banned in the Cayman Islands. Photo: File

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