Bird flu farm will not be prosecuted
THE Suffolk turkey farm at the centre of the bird flu outbreak will not face prosecution by the Food Standards Agency, it has been revealed.Investigators looking into possible failings at the Bernard Matthews site in Holton, near Halesworth, found “insufficient evidence” for legal action.
THE Suffolk turkey farm at the centre of the bird flu outbreak will not face prosecution by the Food Standards Agency, it has been revealed.
Investigators looking into possible failings at the Bernard Matthews site in Holton, near Halesworth, found “insufficient evidence” for legal action.
A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs report published in February listed a catalogue of failings at the turkey plant.
Inspectors saw gulls feeding on meat scraps left in uncovered waste bins and polythene bags used for meat products left in open bins.
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But the Food Standards Agency said yesterday its probe had found “no evidence” that the firm breached animal by-product or food hygiene laws.
The watchdog said in a statement: “We have carefully scrutinised and considered the evidence in this case and concluded there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.
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“Accordingly, we have decided not to proceed to a prosecution in this case.”
The FSA said its decision followed a thorough examination into possible problems with food waste storage at the Bernard Matthews site.
Miles Hubbard, T&G regional industrial organizer, who has represented the Bernard Matthews workers throughout the bird flu crisis, welcomed the news.
“We feel a mixture of relief, vindication and confidence,” he said.
“Relief that the prosecution 'cloud' has been blown away and vindication as the T&G always maintained that the standards of biosecurity at Holton were sound.
“We believe consumer confidence should return and Easter turkeys should be Matthews' turkeys.”
But Chris Huhne, Lib Dem shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs secretary, said: “When Parliament returns, I will press ministers to give a much fuller explanation than that we have been given.”
Defra said the FSA had been investigating Bernard Matthews on its behalf.
A spokeswoman said there were no outstanding inquiries into the turkey firm which could lead to a prosecution.
Defra expects its own scientific investigation into the bird flu outbreak to conclude after Easter.
The H5N1 outbreak at the turkey plant prompted a cull of 159,000 birds.
The turkey firm said in a statement: “Bernard Matthews has always maintained that it has acted with the utmost integrity and cooperated fully with the relevant authorities and the Food Standards Agency's decision reinforces this.
“We have systems in place to ensure we meet and in some cases exceed the measures imposed by Defra, the FSA and the Meat Hygiene Service.”