Disease policy failings put industry at risk

UK - This bird flu business is beginning to stink, and the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is very unlikely to emerge from the mess smelling of roses.
calendar icon 12 February 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
Defra's response to news that turkey imports continued after bird flu appeared in Suffolk defies belief.

It emerged over the weekend that 30 tonnes of turkey meat was imported from a Bernard Matthews plant in Hungary three days after the disease was diagnosed in Suffolk. That is quite incredible, but to hear the Defra minister Ben Bradshaw state that the government feared that if a ban had been imposed the UK might be subject to export restrictions by the EU almost defies belief.

And it gets worse: yesterday morning I received a telephone call from Jim Walker, former president of NFU Scotland, who is a director of Argent Energy, the Motherwell-based leader in the field of renewable energy.

Argent has a subsidiary company - Bellwood Foods in Nottingham. This plant processes the bits of chicken that UK consumers do not eat and then exports the reconstituted product to Ukraine and Russia. Last week, Defra closed the plant down for very obscure reasons. About 40 workers from the Nottingham facility are on four weeks' notice with little prospect of retaining their jobs. What is equally astonishing is that the chicken waste is now being exported to mainland to Europe for processing, before being transported to markets in Ukraine and Russia.

I was invited in the wake of the foot-and-mouth crisis in 2001 to give evidence at the inquiry chaired by Dr Iain Anderson. The report, published in July 2002, was entitled Lessons to be Learned. It runs to 190 pages and is highly detailed.

Source: The Scotsman

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