A systematic review of the intercontinental movement of unregulated African meat imports into and through European border checkpoints

S. Morrison-Lanjouw, R. Spijker, L. Mughini-Gras, R. A. Coutinho, A. L. Chaber, M. Leeflang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


There is an urgent need for biosurveillance of unregulated African meat imports at border points of entry in destination markets. This is underscored by recent pandemics linked to exotic wildlife products. Our objective was to catalog the quantity of meat that is informally transported from Africa into and through Europe often without any veterinary or sanitary checks. We searched and included peer-reviewed studies that contained data on the intercontinental movement of unregulated meat from the African continent. This was followed by an investigation of the reported contamination of such meat. We included fifteen airport studies with limited data on this topic. The references included in this review describe the quantity of meat found at border inspection posts and the presence of pathogens. Disease-causing pathogens were found to be present, and the results are organized into bacteria, virus, and parasite categories. The species of animal meat found in this review were linked to CITES-protected species some of which are known reservoir hosts for infectious diseases. This represents a potential and unquantified human health risk to populations along the supply chain, and a loss to biodiversity in supply countries. Meat samples described in this review were primarily found opportunistically by Customs officials, indicating that any estimate of the total quantities passing undetected through border checkpoints must remain tentative, and cannot rule out the possibility that it is indeed considerably higher. We propose a template for future studies regarding African meat imports at border points of entry. The result of this review illustrates a gap in knowledge and lacunae regarding the amount of unregulated African meat imports worldwide, the pathogens it may contain, and the resulting biodiversity loss that occurs from the intercontinental movement of this meat.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100599
JournalOne Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Africa
  • Biosurveillance
  • Border
  • Bushmeat
  • Customs
  • Imports
  • One health
  • Pathogens
  • Species
  • Systematic review
  • Zoonotic disease

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