Bird flu update: 13 February 2007
Tuesday 13 February 2007
The slaughterhouse at the Bernard Matthews plant in Holton reopened for business after cleaning and disinfection to the satisfaction of the Meat Hygiene Service.
The decision to allow the slaughterhouse to reopen was taken by the State Veterinary Service (SVS), an executive agency of Defra.
The SVS took the decision once it was satisfied that the additional conditions imposed by the Avian Influenza regulations had been met.
The Avian Influenza regulations control the movement of live birds into and out of restricted zones.
The FSA has reiterated that this is not a food safety issue and there are therefore no consumer safety grounds, on the evidence currently available to us, to justify a product recall. FSA Chair Deirdre Hutton said: 'The investigation so far has not found anything that raises the risk to public health.
'It is still a possibility that infected poultry has entered the food chain but the risk to public health remains low.'
One possible cause of the outbreak in Suffolk is poultry meat imported from Hungary. Officials from the Food Standards Agency and the Meat Hygiene Service are working at the Bernard Matthews factory at Upper Holton Farm, Suffolk, investigating meat imported there. Documentation is being studied for information about the dates and amounts of poultry imported, the route it followed, and whether it complied with EU health requirements.
Officials from the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs are also looking at the possible ways that the virus could have transferred from poultry meat from Hungary into live birds at the Bernard Matthews plant. Although the possibility of a product withdrawal for strictly animal health reasons has been discussed, Defra veterinary advice is that such action would be disproportionate and no product recall will therefore be required on those grounds.