DEFRA defends speed of reaction to H5N1 bird flu outbreak

Claims that that DEFRA failed to react quickly enough to the outbreak of the avian flu have been dismissed by junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw.

Mr Bradshaw told the Today programme on Radio 4 that a small number of birds died in the middle of last week but nothing out of the ordinary for such a large flock.

The minister said the State Veterinary Service was alerted to the problem by Bernard Matthews’ vet on Thursday evening (5 February) after 800 birds died in one day.

Restrictions were immediately placed on the premises and vets visited the farm on Friday morning to take test samples.

Confirmation that the H5N1 strain was present on the farm came through on Saturday morning (3 February).

“I’m satisfied that everyone moved as quickly as they possibly could have,” he said.

Listen to the Ben Bradshaw interview in full (interview went out at 8.10am).

For background information and the latest advice from DEFRA see our Avian Flu special global report.

What impact might avian flu have on the Bernard Matthews business? Why not read our FWi news blog, Food for Thought.