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"Akrantie" Smuggled Through Heathrow

GNA
30 November 2002 | General News

London, UK -- Contaminated meat from exotic tropical animals has been filmed being smuggled through British airports without checks, it emerged yesterday.

In the wake of warnings by experts that rancid meat brought into Britain could spark a public health disaster, travellers carrying pieces of bush rat, ostrich, zebra and antelope were filmed evading Customs officers at Heathrow Airport for a TV programme.

Secret cameras show a bush rat (Akrantie), bought at a street market in Ghana, being smuggled through Heathrow. There were no Customs checks.

Meanwhile, a traveller flying in from Namibia with a suitcase packed with pieces of ostrich, zebra and antelope was also filmed. Again there were no checks.

Environmental security expert Clive Lawrence, who is based at Heathrow, told the programme that checks on illegally imported meat were practically non-existent.

He said: "A lot of it is maggot-infested because it's been travelling and incorrectly packed. It can spend days in the heat and sun before it gets on an aircraft, so it's pretty rancid by the time it hits Heathrow."

Health inspectors were also filmed raiding a shop in Tottenham, north London, where they seized two tonnes of unfit meat as well as carcasses of tropical animals.

Meanwhile Sandra Westacott, from Southampton Port Health Authority, said that authorities were able to check only a tiny percentage of the containers which came through.

The programme also investigated claims of human flesh being sold in London.

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