The Food Standards Agency has told the Fresh Produce Consortium that it does not believe there is a risk that bird flu could be transmitted to humans through fruit and veg that have come into contact with bird faeces.

The FSA said: "Consumption of fresh produce has not been implicated in any of the cases [of bird flu in humans] that have occurred worldwide.

"If virus were present on fresh produce as a result of faecal contamination, several factors would contribute to preventing or limiting its effects. These include destruction of the virus by cooking and by saliva and gastric acid.

"The FSA's longstanding advice is that it is important to wash fruit and veg with drinking water before consumption. This will help ensure they are clean and reduce any micro-organisms on the surface."