The new virus that leads to stillbirths and birth defects in lambs and other livestock poses no threat to consumers, the Food Standards Agency said yesterday.

“Based on current evidence, there is unlikely to be any risk to consumers through the food chain from the virus that is causing abnormalities in livestock,” the watchdog confirmed.

“Defra is actively monitoring the situation and the FSA is in contact with both Defra and the Health Protection Agency to keep the issue under review.”

The assessment came as it emerged that the Schmallenberg virus – named after the town in Germany where it was first discovered – has now been reported in 74 farms around the UK.