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Poultry Industry Prepared for Avian Influenza

Potential Poultry Health Issues Does Not Pose a Food Safety Risk

WASHINGTON, DC, March 20, 2006 - The poultry industry commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior and Health and Human Services for communicating its proactive approach to preparing for avian influenza (AI) in the United States. The poultry industry has numerous precautions in place to ensure the health of its flocks.

Modern poultry production protects flocks from predators, severe weather, and diseases, such as AI. The U.S. poultry industry has strict biosecurity practices in place to ensure the health and well-being of its poultry and employees. Equipment is cleaned and sanitized, poultry growers wear protecting clothing and only essential employees have contact with flocks.

“Poultry in other parts of the world are in many cases allowed to run at large and are not protected from wild waterfowl or other birds that may be carrying viruses such as avian influenza,” said Sherrill Davison, V.M.D., associate professor of avian medicine and pathology, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Extensive contact between domesticated and wild birds is believed to be the primary way in which the avian influenza virus has spread.

The U.S. government and the poultry industry are working together on extensive flock testing and surveillance programs to ensure early detection of any occurrence of the avian influenza virus into a flock. Before processing, all poultry is inspected by USDA.

Consumers can have complete confidence in the safety of the poultry products they enjoy at home and away from home. “This is a poultry health issue, not a food safety issue,” said Michael Doyle, Ph.D., director, center for food safety, University of Georgia. “Bird flu in poultry does not pose a food safety risk because it is highly unlikely sick poultry would be slaughtered for consumption, and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs would destroy the virus. You cannot get avian influenza from properly handled or cooked food.”

USDA confirms that the heat of normal cooking-to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F - is more than adequate to inactivate the virus that causes avian influenza.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

The National Turkey Federation is the advocate for all segments of the U.S. turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities, which increase demand for its members' products and protect and enhance the ability to effectively and profitably provide wholesome, high quality, nutritious turkey products.

The Egg Safety Center is a resource center for the egg industry on egg safety and animal health issues. The Center works closely with the American Egg Board and United Egg Producers to provide the most up-to-date scientific information on egg safety research and practices.

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