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Avian Flu

Volume 692: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in light of the report by the National Emergency Epidemiology Group into the possible source of the outbreak of avian influenza, they will introduce a requirement for greater biosecurity around meat processing plants that deal in infected meat. [HL3836]

The Government’s policy is to promote the highest possible levels of biosecurity and vigilance to prevent the risk of disease occurring. This applies to all elements of food production.

In the event of an outbreak of avian influenza, animal disease controls are put in place to prevent the spread of the infection to birds and to prevent potentially infected poultry meat from entering the food chain. This is to avoid the risk that such meat might present an animal health risk of spreading the disease. The Food Standard Agency’s advice is that avian influenza does not pose a food safety risk to the United Kingdom consumer. Processing plants are permitted to obtain meat from areas outside animal disease control zones. Clear requirements for the handling and disposal of waste in meat processing plants are set out in existing hygiene and animal by-product legislation and are enforced by the Meat Hygiene Service and local authorities.