Monday, February 19, 2007

Company hit by bird flu laying off 130 workers in Britain

LONDON: Europe’s biggest turkey processor, which was hit by bird flu, will lay off 130 workers immediately, with more to follow, a union said Monday.

Bernard Matthews PLC has informed its employees that 130 will be sent home for 20 days effective Monday, with more layoffs to come, reaching 500 within weeks, the Transport and General Workers Union said.

The company was forced to slaughter 159,000 turkeys at a farm in Holton, 130 miles (210 kilometers) northeast of London, after several were found to be infected with the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Environment Secretary David Miliband said Monday that there was a continual risk of bird flu outbreaks, but that there had been none reported since the turkey cull.

Restrictions in the area could be lifted as early as mid-March, he said.

The government had said Friday that poultry imports from Hungary had most likely led to the bird flu outbreak at the Bernard Matthews farm, where virus strain found was essentially identical to one found in geese in southern Hungary.

Officials have said, however, that there is no evidence of illegal or unsafe poultry imports from Hungary, and the government conceded it would be impossible to determine the outbreak’s source for certain.

Hungarian Agriculture Minister Jozsef Graf said Friday that his country was not the source.

Avian influenza story source: IHT

Posted by john T. on 02/19 at 01:00 PM
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