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European Union Reassures Consumers on Food Safety of Poultry

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, February 20, 2006 - The top health official of the European Union has reassured consumers that poultry is safe to eat despite the finding of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds across the Continent.

"There's no reason for European citizens not to consume poultry meat and products," said Markos Kyprianou, EU commissioner for health and consumer protection. "Products from infected animals do not enter the food chain. The message is that it's safe to consume poultry meat and eggs in the European Union," he said.

"We have the measures and legislation for containment and eradication of such diseases," Kyprianou said at a news conference. "It (bird flu) is a virus that only spreads to humans with difficulty."

The World Health Organization (WHO) also reaffirmed that cooking poultry, or any food, to a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius (approximately 160 degrees Fahrenheit) destroys any viruses that may be present. No human cases of avian influenza have been traced to properly cooked poultry meat.