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Avian Influenza: Disease Control

Volume 459: debated on Tuesday 1 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the testing of live poultry for avian influenza in the protection and surveillance zones in Suffolk referred to in his Department’s submission to the European Commission on 5 March was completed before permission was granted to reopen the Bernard Matthews plant in Suffolk; what type of live poultry was tested; what the location was of each of the premises that were tested; and how many birds were tested in each. (134493)

During the outbreak, the State Veterinary Service (SVS, now Animal Health) carried out extensive surveillance in the restricted areas working closely with local authorities in Suffolk and Norfolk and other agencies. A full breakdown of the type and numbers of poultry tested along with a map of their locations can be found on pages 16 and 17 of the final epidemiology report into the outbreak we published on 19 April. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

This testing of live poultry within the protection and surveillance zones was completed by 26 February. The Bernard Matthews slaughterhouse plant in Holton was re-opened on 12 February. However, this was a separate premises from the site of the outbreak (although adjacent to it) and was placed under appropriate restrictions only while it was used to cull the birds. The meat processing plant which was also adjacent to the infected premises was never placed under restrictions. Once culling was completed, it was re-licensed to operate only after being thoroughly cleansed and disinfected and inspected by the SVS and Meat Hygiene Service so that it could not pose any disease risk to either poultry or humans.