Bernard Matthews Turkey Farm Accused Of Negligence Amid UK's Bird Flu Crisis
A Bernard Matthews turkey farm in Norfolk disposing of culled birds after UK avian flu outbreak The turkey farm has been accused of going against UK regulations - Media Credit: GenV

Major UK Turkey Producer Under Fire For Negligence Amid Bird Flu Crisis

Investigators have warned of the weak biosecurity measures in place at a major UK turkey producer's farm

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2 Minutes Read

Investigators have accused a Norfolk turkey farm of risking the spread of bird flu with improper disposal of dead animals.

Undercover activists from Generation Vegan, known as GenV, visited a turkey farm owned by Bernard Matthews Foods. The company has more than 50 farms across the UK, rearing nearly seven million turkeys every year.

Bernard Matthews turkey farm

As part of the recent investigation, activists filmed farm workers discarding “culled” birds affected by the current outbreak of avian flu.

The footage shows workers scooping up thousands of dead birds with machinery and putting their bodies into large disposal bins.

Investigators claim that biosecurity measures were weak, and that dead birds were dropped on the ground. One worker was allegedly seen kicking the corpses into a bucket.

The activists also say they saw feathers flying away in the wind, which could spread bird flu elsewhere.

A vehicle carries dead "culled" birds at a Bernard Matthews turkey farm in Norfolk amid UK's avian flu outbreak
GenV Undercover activists captured the footage at a Bernard Matthews turkey farm

In an avian flu webinar, the Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs stated: “The virus can be transmitted directly between birds or indirectly by birds coming into contact with environmental contamination, including faeces and feathers from infected birds.”

Government regulations state that vehicles used for transportation must be “leakproof and covered.” The collection vehicle also shouldn’t pass over a surface that “could possibly be contaminated with mud, slurry, poultry faeces, excretions, feathers, litter, eggshell or other similar matter liable to transmit disease.”

Bird flu in the UK

The UK is currently experiencing what’s thought to be its worst outbreak of avian flu of all time.

Millions of farmed turkeys, chickens, and other poultry have been “culled” already, and the disease has also spread to wild birds.

It was reported earlier this month that around half of the UK’s so-called “free-range” turkeys have died during the outbreak. Many, such as GenV, see these deaths as a tragedy. However, the media has fixated on what potential meat shortages could mean for Christmas dinner.

“People are often shocked to see factory farmed birds culled en masse, perhaps not realizing they are treated no better inside farms and slaughterhouses,” Naomi Hallum, CEO of GenV, told Plant Based News.

“Those who survive the factory farm ordeal and then the journey to the slaughterhouse are dispassionately killed in order to service a celebration of peace and good will. What a terrible way to treat our fellow sentient beings.

“We can – and must – do better.”

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The Author

Polly Foreman

Polly is the Deputy Editor of Plant Based News. She has been vegan since 2014, and has written extensively on veganism, animal rights, and the environment.

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