Christmas dinner is safe despite flu worry

Christmas turkeys

Christmas turkeys

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Poultry farmers in Preston said Christmas dinner is safe, despite a dangerous strain of bird flu circulating in Europe.

The Government Chief Vet has declared a Prevention Zone, meaning keepers of poultry and other captive birds across the country must now keep their birds indoors for 30 days, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

The measure is aimed to stopping a UK outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8), which has been confirmed in poultry and wild birds in several countries across Europe.

No cases of H5N8 have been found in the UK and Public Health England (PHE) advises that the threat to human health remains very low.

A spokesman for It’s Turkey Time based at Gracemire Farm in Treales Road, Salwick, said: “It’s not an issue for us. There’s no risk of cross-contamination with other species and the birds are kept indoors anyway.

“There’s nothing to worry about and our Christmas orders are going well. We supply a lot of local butchers and also sell on the farm gate.”

A spokesman for Salwick Hall Farm, also in Salwick, said: “Our 1,500 turkeys are kept inside anyway, so this new measure is not going to affect us. There’s no problem for Christmas orders.

“When they’re inside they can get bored, so we make sure they they have different things to keep them occupied such as perches and things to peck at.”

Other local poultry farmers have questioned the difference in official advice compared to that issue when there was an outbreak of H7N7 avian flu at Staveley’s Eggs at Field Foot Farm on Eaves Green Lane, Goosnargh, 18 months ago where 170,000 birds were culled.

That outbreak resulted in a 10 kilometre exclusion zone around the farm where movements were restricted, rather than national advice issued yesterday.

As well as appealing to farmers, Defra has also asked members of the public to report any cases of dead wild waterfowl - such as swans, geese and ducks - or gulls, or five or more dead birds of other species. The helpline number is 03459 33 55 77.