FSA not to prosecute Bernard Matthews
The Food Standards Agency is not to prosecute Bernard Matthews, which was at the centre of the bird flu crisis in February.
The FSA said its investigation has thoroughly examined the possibility that food waste at the Bernard Matthews cutting plant at Holton may have been stored inappropriately and concluded there was no evidence under the Animal By-Products Regulations 2005, for which Defra is the enforcement authority.
The Agency also considered whether there was sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution under the Animal By-Products (Identification) Regulations 1995 or the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006, in relation to which the FSA is the enforcement authority.
In deciding whether or not to instigate a prosecution, the Agency applies the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which says that no prosecution may go ahead unless the prosecutor finds there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.
The FSA said in a press statement: "We have carefully scrutinised and considered the evidence in this case and concluded there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. Accordingly, we have decided not to proceed to a prosecution in this case."
Miles Hubbard, T&G regional industrial organiser who has represented the Bernard Matthews workers throughout the bird flu crisis, said today's news from Defra and the Food Standards Agency was a welcome development.
"We feel a mixture of relief, vindication and confidence," he said. "Relief that the prosecution 'cloud' has been blown away and vindication as the T&G always maintained that the standards of biosecurity at Holton were sound. We believe consumer confidence should return and Easter turkeys should be Matthews' turkeys."
A spokesman for Bernard Matthews said the company has always maintained that it has acted with the utmost integrity and cooperated fully with the relevant authorities and the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) decision reinforces this.
"We have systems in place to ensure we meet and in some cases exceed the measures imposed by Defra, the FSA and the Meat Hygiene Service," he added.