Scientists are investigating whether last weekend's outbreak of avian flu at a Bernard Matthews farm in Lowestoft, Suffolk, originated in Hungary.

Preliminary scientific tests show the H5N1 viruses in Suffolk and recent outbreaks in Hungary “may well be identical”, Defra admitted last night.

Bernard Matthews owns Saga Food in Hungary, the country's largest poultry exporter, and officials are investigating whether the virus could have arrived in the UK via a consignment of partially processed turkey meat delivered from one of the company's plants in Hungary to Suffolk.

Bernard Matthews has voluntarily agreed to temporarily suspend the movement of poultry products between its outlets in the UK and Hungary until the investigation is completed.

“Our investigations have shown that one possible route of infection is poultry product imported from Hungary. It is important that this is investigated thoroughly, along with all other possible routes,” said Defra deputy chief vet Fred Landeg.

Yesterday, scientists found traces of H5N1 in three further sheds on the farm. Previously, it had been discovered in only one of the 22 sheds on the site.