FSA loses comms chief amid rising bird flu fears

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is hunting a director of comms as poultry producers brace themselves for a potential boycott over the avian flu scare.

Neil Martinson left the publicly funded watchdog last week, unaware that colleagues would this week be fending off a national food scare.
European experts this Wednesday warned poultry and eggs should be cooked thoroughly to avoid any risk of catching bird flu, which has killed 60 people worldwide since 2003. The advice was issued following reported public anxiety about the safety of poultry products.

The FSA has responsibility for allaying fears over the consumption of products from an industry worth £10bn in Europe.

Martinson quit after five years to set up his own, yet-to-be-named agency.

He joined the FSA shortly after it was set up in 2000 in the wake of the BSE crisis. He grew the agency's nine-strong communications team to its current size of 44 staff.

Head of media relations Karen Talbot is temporarily acting in Martinson's role.

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