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UK Farmers urge ban on poultry imports

Saturday, February 10th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Farmers are calling for a ban on raw imported poultry meat from countries infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus until the cause of the UK outbreak has been established.

Charles Bourns, chairman of the poultry board of the National Farmers' Union, said: "All we are saying is that if you have H5N1 in a country then obviously, if it has come in from Hungary this time, then the measures that are being taken to prevent the disease entering the UK have broken down somewhere. "Therefore, maybe the easiest way out of this situation would be to stop the importation of raw poultry meat from any country with H5N1 until the Government has worked out how it got here." The Government's chief scientist, Professor Sir David King, told Channel 4 News on Friday that the "most likely scenario" was that the virus was brought into the UK by poultry meat from Hungary. The Observer reported on Thursday that a consignment of dead turkeys from Bernard Matthews' Hungary plant could be the source of the outbreak. It said the consignment of meat, which had been partly processed, was brought by lorry to the UK, arriving a few days before January 27, when the first signs of illness were spotted in turkey chicks at the Bernard Matthews poultry farm in Holton, Suffolk. Mr Bourns said: "I am not keen to have any imported meats but if we are to have them, let's have them in a form which is 110 per cent safe. I am not trying to scaremonger. I am just saying that logically we must stop this disease from spreading." Supermarkets are facing a possible nationwide recall of processed turkey products in an attempt to halt the spread of bird flu. Sir David warned the H5N1 virus could be picked up by other birds or animals if they came into contact with meat from infected poultry. While there was no risk to human health, as long as the meat was properly cooked, he told C4N that turkey products may now have to be withdrawn from the shops to stop the disease spreading to other animals. He warned that the disease could spread very quickly if the wild bird population became infected, although no cases had been found so far.(Ananova)

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