The Star Early Edition

Avian flu clips KFC’s wings

- YOLISA TSWANYA

IF YOU haven’t been able to get your Zinger or Dunked Wing fix from some KFC stores, the out­break of the H5N8 strain of the bird flu virus is to blame.

As the West­ern Cape and many other ar­eas still bat­tle with the H5N8 strain, some chicken prod­ucts are be­com­ing harder to come by.

KFC is one of the hard hit re­tail­ers, and its pop­u­lar Zinger and Dunked Wings have been tem­po­rar­ily out of stock at a num­ber of out­lets.

KFC Africa spokesper­son Thanisa Mkhwanasi said the wing short­ages in some ar­eas were a di­rect re­sult of the out­break of avian in­fluenza.

“KFC South Africa can con­firm that KFC restau­rants, to­gether with the broader in­dus­try, are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a short­age of wings in some ar­eas due to the im­pact of the out­break of avian in­fluenza on bird avail­abil­ity.

“The con­tin­ued out­breaks across the coun­try have in­ten­si­fied the pres­sure on our sup­ply chain, and we will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the de­vel­op­ments and en­sure that the im­pact is min­imised.”

She added that they were con­cerned about the longert­erm im­pact the virus may have on na­tional egg banks and the knock-on im­pact to broiler avail­abil­ity.

“We want to re­as­sure our cus­tomers that we are work­ing tire­lessly with our sup­pli­ers to bring sup­ply lev­els back to nor­mal to meet de­mand as far as pos­si­ble.

“Dis­cus­sions are un­der way be­tween key in­dus­try play­ers and the gov­ern­ment on how best to man­age the sit­u­a­tion mov­ing for­ward, and KFC is com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing to en­gage and par­tic­i­pate in these ef­forts.

“In the in­terim, how­ever, we un­for­tu­nately ex­pect con­strained sup­ply, re­sult­ing in some restau­rants be­ing in­ter­mit­tently out of stock.”

Mkhwanasi noted that KFC sourced its chicken from lo­cal sup­pli­ers, in­clud­ing As­tral, who re­ported an avian flu out­break ear­lier this year. The chicken pro­ducer had lost around R50 mil­lion as a re­sult of the out­break on some of its farms.

Re­tail­ers have also been af­fected by the out­break of the virus, and the Sho­prite/ Check­ers group said it pre­dicted prob­lems in the near fu­ture.

Jo­han­nes­burg City Parks spokesper­son Jenny Mood­ley said they were con­tin­u­ing to closely mon­i­tor the out­break of avian in­fluenza in the city and had found that since Oc­to­ber, the num­ber of dead car­casses re­cov­ered on a day-to-day ba­sis had de­creased and was con­fined to the West­dene Dam area.

“City Parks has re­in­forced that the strain is not con­ta­gious to hu­mans… We have also re­quested that res­i­dents re­frain from com­ing into di­rect contact with the car­cass and to in­cin­er­ate the re­mains where pos­si­ble.”

The West­ern Cape has lost more than 2 mil­lion birds to the virus. It has since spread to other prov­inces, with Lim­popo and the North­ern Cape be­ing the only two prov­inces said to be un­af­fected. – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Nokuthula Zwane

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