Compensation for bird flu chaos

BERNARD Matthews will get nearly £600,000 compensation for healthy birds slaughtered in the bird flu outbreak at his Suffolk farm, the government said today .

BERNARD Matthews will get nearly £600,000 compensation for healthy birds slaughtered in the bird flu outbreak at his Suffolk farm, the government said today .

Some 160,000 turkeys were killed at the site in Holton in February to prevent the H5N1 virus spreading. As a result around 130 people were laid off in the wake of plummeting sales.

Mr Matthews is expected to get £589,356.89 for healthy birds compulsorily killed, as required by the Animal Health Act 1981.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said compensation was offered to the owners of healthy animals destroyed due to disease prevention as an incentive to report diseases early.

As well as affecting Mr Matthews' product sales, the outbreak also had an impact on Suffolk's livestock sales, with no poultry for sale at a livestock market at Campsea Ashe in the weeks following the news.

However Ipswich butcher George Debman insisted the quality of the meat was not affected. The National Farmers Union urged people to continue to buy the products.

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A report by Defra said it was most likely the infection came to Britain via imported turkey meat from Hungary.

In February it published failings at the farm, including gulls feeding on meat scraps left in uncovered waste bins and polythene bags used for meat products left in open bins.

Investigators from the Food Standards Agency looking into possible failings at the farm found “insufficient evidence” for legal action and announced they would not be prosecuting them.

An earlier investigation by the Food Standards Agency found no basis for prosecuting Bernard Matthews over the bird flu outbreak.

Animal Health minister Ben Bradshaw said: "Although we cannot be sure how the outbreak happened, this episode reflects the need for constant vigilance, high levels of biosecurity and robust and well developed contingency planning in dealing with animal disease outbreaks.”

n. What do you think of the amount of compensation given? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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