Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been an issue in the UK—and the world—throughout 2022 that has put a strain on poultry supply. To maintain stock levels during the high-demand holiday season, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) is temporarily allowing for the sale of certain poultry products that have been previously frozen and defrosted.
The change applies to some turkey, duck, capon, and goose products on sale from November 28–December 31, 2022 in England and Wales. The change does not apply to chicken. The products should be clearly labeled as “defrosted,” and are suitable for home freezing if so indicated on the label.
FSA explained that the defrosted poultry products for sale will be safe as industry professionals can use specialized equipment to rapidly freeze and defrost the goods in controlled conditions, mitigating microbial growth.
The temporary change is intended to assist farmers and producers affected by the impacts of HPAI. The UK is facing its “worst bird flu outbreak ever," with over 200 cases confirmed across the country since October 2021. The measures enable certain farmers whose flocks may have been impacted to slaughter the birds and freeze the poultry products, which can be defrosted and sold during the specified time period.