-  Saturday 15 August 2020

    France moves to protect poultry industry

    26 February 2006
    The French department of agriculture has increased precautions after the first outbreak of bird flu in a European poultry farm was discovered last week in south-east France.

    The department decided to shut all farm birds indoors in most areas days before the first case of bird flu was detected.

    Disinfection points and constant veterinary monitoring are now obligatory features of poultry farms within three kilometres of any outbreaks.

    Vaccination of birds that cannot be kept indoors has started in several regions, including the Landes area where a significant amount of the foie gras production comes from.

    More than 400 turkeys were found dead in Versailleux, near Lyons, last Thursday. State vets culled 11,000 birds on the farm.

    It is unclear how they were contaminated as they were in an indoor farm. Tests should confirm that the turkeys were infected by the H5N1 virus.

    Two wild ducks found dead three kilometres away from the farm were confirmed to carry the Asian strain of avian flu, prompting strict precautions to protect the local poultry industry.

    According to the French meat board Ofival, the country is Europe’s leading egg producer, with more than 14 billion eggs a year.

    The government is hammering home the message that poultry meat and eggs are safe to eat, as the virus disappears when cooking temperature reaches 65 degrees celsius. Still, the public is advised not to feed birds, let children play with them or touch them if they find them dead.

    Consumption was down by 20 per cent, even before the first cases were confirmed.

    ‘‘It has dropped again since then,” said Pierre Buffo, chief executive of the Gers area poultry association. Its 400 members (farmers and factories) employ 485 staff and produce 6.5 million free-range chickens a year at the foot of the Pyrenees.

    ‘‘We are not going to communicate in the middle of the calamity when people are not ready to listen,” said Buffo.


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