UPDATE: UK food safety regulations under question

13-03-2007 | | |

When 900 mt of poultry meat passed through a UK farm infected with bird flu and into the food chain during an outbreak of the disease last month, UK health regulations came under fire.

It seemed to be a sign that the UK ‘s system of keeping tainted food out of the supply chain needed to be rectified before other similar outbreaks occur.

Bernard Matthews handled the suspect meat from 2 February, when the outbreak of the H5N1 virus was confirmed at the premises, and 12 February, when regulators said the disinfection process had been completed. The meat passed through the farm even though an EU-regulated protection zone had been put in place around it and the related processing plant during the outbreak.

However, UK Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said in a written statement: “The Food Standards Agency informed me that their enquiries have shown that no staff handling meat at the plant handled live birds. The only staff coming into contact with live birds are those working in the lairage/killing area (which is separate from the main processing area). For hygiene reasons, these staff are not deployed in meat processing areas and there is no swapping of roles.”


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