02/04/2007

No charges over bird flu outbreak

Bernard Matthews will not face charges over the outbreak of bird flu at one of its plants, the Food Standards Agency has announced.

Following an investigation, the FSA said that there was no evidence that food waste at the site in Holton, Suffolk, had been stored inappropriately.

A statement issued by the FSA on Monday said: "We have carefully scrutinised and considered the evidence in this case and concluded there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction."

A statement released by Bernard Matthews said that they had always maintained that they had acted with "the utmost integrity and cooperated fully with the relevant authorities".

Nearly 160,000 birds were culled at the plant, following the discovery of the deadly H5N1 virus.

However, a report by Defra, published in February, highlighted a number of failings at the plant, including wild birds feeding on meat scraps left in open waste bins.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson Chris Huhne said: "Given that the Defra-commissioned reports into the Bernard Matthews affair pointed clearly to breaches in the regulations and that there was TV footage of wild birds feeding off open waste bins at the plant containing poultry meat, this is an astonishing decision.

"When Parliament returns, I will press ministers to give a much fuller explanation than that which we have been given.

"I hope that the Food Standards Agency has not been influenced by short-term concerns about employment at the plant. If consumers lose confidence in the regulatory regime, the damage to the whole poultry farming industry would potentially be devastating.

"It is in no-one's interest - not consumers and not farmers - to pussyfoot about applying food safety standards."

Defra's own scientific investigation into the bird flu outbreak is expected to be concluded after Easter.

(KMcA/SP)


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

29 October 2003
New proposals set to curb fast-food littering
Fast-food outlets and customers will be encouraged to clean up their act under voluntary proposals published today by the government.
28 March 2008
School's Out For Junk Food
The School Food Trust is to set in motion measures that will curb school children binging on junk food. Currently in some parts of England, pupils have a choice of more than 40 fast food shops, with many targeting children with special lunch menus.
09 March 2006
FSA agrees colour-coded food labelling
The Food Standards Agency has agreed a recommendation for a colour-coded 'traffic light' system for food labelling to be used as the industry standard.
30 January 2004
'Bird flu' fears sees EU ban on bird imports
Following public concerns over the outbreak of bird flu in southeast Asia, the European Commission has agreed to suspend all imports of captive and pet birds from nine Asian countries into the EU.
08 May 2008
Food Waste Costs £10 Billion, Says Report
A report launched today reveals that consumers are dumping 6.7 million tonnes of food every year in England and Wales. The Food We Waste report - believed to be the first of its kind in the world - consisted of a detailed survey of households and a physical analysis of their waste.