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Report of Illegal Poultry Imports Into U.K.

Flu Pandemic News: Britain

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Feb 09, 2007
Conservationists have insisted that it was impossible to blame the arrival of the H5N1 virus into commercial poultry on wild birds, when not one bird had been found with the disease in the UK or northern Europe. Now Bernard Matthews, Britain’s largest turkey producer ( where the lethal strain of bird flu was detected last week) is under investigation by the Government amid concerns that the company has imported poultry from inside an avian flu exclusion zone in Hungary. Under European regulations no birds should be moved in a 3km zone around infected farms and in the further 10km surveillance zone. But it has now emerged that 37 tonnes of partly processed turkeys have been arriving in Britain from Bernard Matthews Hungarian plants every week. A delivery arrived at the plant just a couple of days before January 27, when workers first spotted signs of illness in the eight-week-old chicks. The Government has found that the strain of the virus in both Hugary and Britain may well be identical. The company is also being investigated for breaking EU hygiene regulations by leaving processed poultry outside sheds on its food processing site at Suffolk. This raises the possibility that other birds and rodents may have come into contact with infected poultry cast-offs. Another three of the units of the 22 at the Bernard Matthews farm have tested positive for H5N1, it emerged, raising fears that the virus was more entrenched than originally hoped. Wildlife experts were privately delighted by the way that the Government was scrutinising the poultry industry. "Bernard Matthews have some very serious questions to answer about . . . the version of events they have told.”

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