Bernard Matthews has been forced to compost litter within the sheds at its unit in Suffolk where the H5N1 avian flu broke out, to the cost of breeding companies.

Concerns from other poultry producers supplying poultry litter to a power station that Bernard Matthews would normally use to dispose its litter had forced the company to compost the litter in its sheds instead,  before secondary cleansing and disinfection could take place.

However, as Charles Bourns, chairman of the NFU poultry board highlighted at a recent NFU council meeting, the delay was inadvertently costing breeding companies millions of pounds in lost exports.

According to OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) rules, an export ban to specific non-EU countries remains in place until three months after Bernard Matthews has completed its secondary cleansing and disinfection. 

A Bernard Matthews spokesperson added: “Bernard Matthews is working in accordance with DEFRA’s instructions. The litter will be disposed of when agreed by DEFRA. A further course of disinfection will then be required.”