England and Wales will temporarily ease restrictions on thawed poultry meat due to bird flu.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises consumers that when purchasing turkey, duck, capon, or goose products, they may have been frozen and thawed before being sold as chilled. increase.

The UK is grappling with its worst bird flu outbreak ever, with more than 200 confirmed cases in the past 12 months. Bird flu poses a very low food safety risk to consumers, but can occasionally make people sick.

The measure means that farmers raising turkeys, geese or ducks for meat will have the option of slaughtering the flock early and freezing their produce, which can then be thawed and sold to the public. Thawed poultry meat, including turkey meat, cannot be sold in the EU.

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In England and Wales, products must be labeled as thawed and are suitable for home freezing as indicated on the label. The temporary changes are effective from 28th November to 31st December 2022 and do not apply to poultry. Narriman Looch, the FSA’s chief food inspector, said thawed produce is safe to eat as long as consumers follow label instructions and practice good food hygiene.

This is contrary to the usual advice not to refreeze raw meat that has been thawed at home. Because home freezers are inefficient, thawing and refreezing raw meat at home can allow harmful bacteria to grow.

This change does not apply to products sold in Northern Ireland as a result of the NI Protocol.

Under EU regulations, poultry meat must be located in one of three states:
Fresh (not previously frozen), frozen, or deep frozen.

The Irish Food Safety Authority (FSAI) said domestic businesses need to be aware that EU rules have not changed, despite the temporary approval in England and Wales. The production and/or sale of thawed poultry meat remains prohibited in all EU Member States and Northern Ireland.

The agency has urged importers, retailers, distributors and manufacturers to pay particular attention to poultry meat marketing standards in their operations during the 2022 holiday season.

Examples of activities that are not permitted in Ireland are the importation, marketing of thawed poultry and the manufacture of thawed poultry.

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