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April 13, 2013

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Authorities reassure customers locally raised birds safe to eat

Poultry raised in Shanghai is safe to eat, the city's agricultural authorities said yesterday amid reports of plummeting demand because of bird flu concerns.

The reassurance came after an estimated 600,000 live chickens raised at local farms and ready to be sold were stuck there because of the ban on live poultry trade.

That problem is on its way to being resolved with 11 designated slaughterhouses in the city beginning work yesterday.

But once the chickens are killed, there is, for the moment, no market for them.

"We have to freeze all these chickens after they are slaughtered because nobody buys chicken due to the outbreak these days," said Li Jianying, director of the Shanghai Animal Husbandry Office.

"The sales of poultry are crippled, which creates huge pressure for us, and we have received a large number of worried poultry farmers these days," Li said.

About 1.8 million chickens are raised in the city each month but not many have been sold since the H7N9 outbreak hit the headlines.

As of yesterday, city authorities had collected 8,263 poultry samples and tested 6,186 of them. All tested negative for the virus.

Farms that have had their chickens checked can apply for a certificate from animal disease control centers which will allow them to have their chicken purchased by the designated slaughterhouses.

Li said experts were considering whether a permanent ban on the sale of live chickens would be adopted to prevent the transmission of bird flu in humans.

Meanwhile, local travel agencies say the bird flu infections have not had a significant effect on the tourism market.

There has been some reduction in tourist numbers as some people give up travel plans to avoid places with large crowds but the impact of the outbreak is "not strong," He Yiwei, deputy general manager of Shanghai Datong Travel Agency Co, said.

Liu Xin, deputy general manager of the Shanghai China CYTS Outbound Travel Service Co, said the agency had received some requests from local companies to delay or cancel trips to neighboring Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces where infections and deaths have also been reported.

The Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center, however, has suspended all tours which involve visits to farms where chickens are being raised.

The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau said yesterday that pet bird vendors in the city had been asked to remove their birds from markets and send them to designated places where market authorities can manage, feed and disinfect them.


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