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Hungarian turkey not source of bird flu - minister

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  • Hungarian turkey not source of bird flu - minister

    Hungarian turkey not source of bird flu - minister

    By Andras Gergely

    BUDAPEST, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Turkey meat from a plant near the site of a Hungarian bird flu outbreak was sold to various parts of Europe besides Britain, but cannot have transmitted the virus, Hungary's Agriculture Ministry said on Monday.

    The British government is investigating a link between an outbreak of avian influenza at a farm owned by Bernard Matthews in Suffolk, eastern England, where 160,000 turkeys were culled and an earlier one in geese in the eastern European country.

    Bernard Matthews originally denied any links between its Hungarian operations in Sarvar and Suffolk, but later admitted that turkey had been shipped between the two processing plants.

    British press reports on Sunday mentioned a turkey plant in the eastern Hungarian town of Kecskemet as a possible transmitter of the virus, via Bernard Matthews' Hungarian subsidiary in the town of Sarvar, western Hungary.

    "There is indeed a turkey processing plant in Kecskemet which sent some meat to Sarvar which sent it on to various parts of western Europe," said Andras Dekany, spokesman at Hungary's Agriculture Ministry.

    "This is true. But every item was checked and there were no problems reported in any other export destinations."

    Hungary will submit a report to the European Commission on Tuesday to prove there can be no link between the cases in Britain and Hungary.

    "The Hungarian authorities have collected all the relevant documents going back to November 2006, including those connected to processing, animal health and sales of every firm affected, Dekany said."

    "The fate of every item can be traced down to the minute."

    "These documents support the fact that the virus cannot have got to Britain from here," Dekany said.

    The checks go back to November because a shipment between Hungary and Britain took place at that time, Dekany said, though he could not say in which direction.

    The British government initially said the British infection was most likely to have come from a wild bird.

    It said on Thursday there might be a link with Hungary after tests showed the virus to be identical to the Hungarian one and it could have been spread by infected meat.

    Dekany said the virus being identical was not a convincing argument because the virus has been almost the same wherever it appeared around Europe.

    "The largest margin of difference has been 0.6 percent."

    He said the Kecskement plant could not have had any contact with the goose farm where the bird flu virus had appeared around 70 km (40 miles) away in Csongrad county.

    "Experts also point out that the difference between a poultry and a goose processing plant is about as big as between a pig and a beef processsing unit," Dekany said.