News update:Feb 23, 2007

Bernard Matthews plant to re-open

The Matthews poultry processing plant, at the heart of the bird flu outbreak in Suffolk, will resume full operations today.

Almost 160,000 birds were culled at the Holton plant last week to eradicate infection with H5N1 virus.
David Miliband, environment secretary did state that Defra investigators had last week discovered food packaging and a label at the Holton site, which suggested that Bernard Matthews had been importing turkeys from a location in Hungary much closer to the site of an infection than the company had previously admitted. Miliband added, "Following cleansing and disinfection on the Holton site, the Meat Hygiene Service has re-licensed the slaughter house, following the State Veterinary Service inspection and clearance for reopening."
Some officials said they still had little idea how the virus leapt from Hungary to Britain. The spokesman dismissed as "speculation" suggestions that turkeys slaughtered in Hungary and sent to the UK had bird flu. "The commercial links are now becoming clear but the means of transfer remain speculation," he said.
Hungary will today present a report to the Commission that it says will detail all movements of commercial poultry into slaughterhouses, proving that no birds from its bird flu exclusion zone have been killed. Geese are the only birds infected in Hungary so far.
Meanwhile, as the Food Standards Agency repeated reassurances that cooked poultry products were safe, UK supermarkets were split over the impact of bird flu on their sales. Sainsbury's and Morrisons are still seeing a 10% week-on-week drop across all fresh and frozen poultry products, though Sainsbury's said its own-brand poultry products had fared better, with sales down just 5%.
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