A campaign has been launched to ensure livestock lorries are properly cleaned amid the threat posed by African swine fever and other diseases.
The #MuckFreeTrucks campaign seeks to encourage farmers, processors and hauliers to do everything they can to keep lorries clean.
It comes as African swine fever (ASF) is currently causing huge problems in Asia and the virus is present in many countries across Eastern Europe.
With infected meat now regularly being detected at airports around the world, it is possible that ASF could already be in the UK, notes the National Pig Association (NPA).
The group is getting behind the new campaign, along with the AHDB, the British Meat Processors Association, the Pig Veterinary Society, British Pig Association and Red Tractor.
Research has shown that contaminated lorries that have not been cleaned properly plays a huge role in spreading the disease, said NPA chief executive Zoe Davies, who came up with the idea.
Over the past few months there has been a spate of swine dysentery cases confirmed on farms across the country, including more cases in North Yorkshire in early April. Some of the outbreaks have been linked to contaminated vehicles.
“The campaign will stress how important it is for producers, processors and hauliers to take every precaution possible to prevent dirty lorries entering farms and leaving processing plants,” Ms Davies said.
“Ideally, we want farmers to turn away dirty wagons and ensure their own are properly cleaned. Processors must ensure their lorries leave the site clean, while hauliers have a big part to play, including reporting any issues with lorry-washing facilities.”
She added: “There is no point becoming good at biosecurity once disease has hit the country – by then it is too late. People need to be thinking about good biosecurity now.”
The NPA is also calling for the government to ramp up checks for illegally imported meat at airports and ports.