Farmers call for public support

FARMERS in East Anglia last night urged customers to continue backing the region's poultry industry.Consumers have been assured there are no health risks associated with eating properly cooked poultry and eggs, despite a case of bird flu being confirmed in Scotland.

FARMERS in East Anglia last night urged customers to continue backing the region's poultry industry.

Consumers have been assured there are no health risks associated with eating properly cooked poultry and eggs, despite a case of bird flu being confirmed in Scotland.

Chris Knock, a farmer from Battisford, near Stowmarket, said: “We've got every confidence in the product and the poultry industry as a whole.

”They're very clear the quality of the product is second to none. If there are any wild birds that come into contact with flocks, the state veterinary service will manage those outbreaks.”


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Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers Union, said: “It is important to keep things in perspective. It does obviously concern us from a poultry health point of view that the disease has reached the UK, but there are no implications for public health or consumers.

“Given the clear advice from the Food Standards Agency that poultry and eggs, properly cooked, are safe to eat we see no reason why sales of eggs or poultry meat should be affected.”

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Paul Kelly, of Kelly Turkey Farms, based in Chelmsford, praised the way the issue has been dealt with by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

He said: “There's no doubt that in terms of the plans Defra has put in place we're way ahead of most other countries in dealing with these outbreaks, partly because of the lessons learnt from the foot and mouth crisis.”

John Collen, Suffolk chairman of the National Farmers Union, who runs a farm in Gisleham, near Lowestoft, said confirmation of the bird flu outbreak in Scotland had caused concern locally.

He said: “The knock-on affect, should we run into a situation where it does end up affecting our flock, would be vast. That's why we're taking every sensible step to ensure security is maintained.”

He urged customers to continue to buy local produce, saying British poultry is the safest in the world.

Farmers across the region are taking precautionary measures to fight the possible spread of the outbreak.

But Richard Storer, who runs Baylham Rare Breeds Centre, near Needham Market, said he was “not concerned” about the issue. He said he would vaccinate his birds “should the requirement arise”.

Reg Ruffles, assistant Suffolk County Council trading standards officer, urged anyone with fewer than 50 birds to register their flock.

The authority is trying to build up a picture of where smaller flocks are located.

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council said contingency plans are in place if the outbreak spreads to the county.

Anyone needing further advice about bird flu can contact the Suffolk County Council helpline on 08456 032814 or visit www.suffolkcc.gov.uk.

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