Poul­try prod­ucts in Ge­or­gia safe for con­sumers

The Standard Journal - - FARM&GARDEN -

Since De­cem­ber 2014, the United States Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA) has con­firmed more than 220 cases of highly path­o­genic avian in­fluenza (HPAI) in wild birds, back­yard and com­mer­cial poul­try flocks in the Pa­cific, Cen­tral and Mis­sis­sippi fly­way zones (mi­gra­tory bird paths) in more than 20 states. HPAI is a strain of avian flu that re­sults in se­vere dis­ease and death in poul­try.

Fol­low­ing the out­break of HPAI in the Mid­west ear­lier this year, Ge­or­gia is pre­par­ing for the pos­si­bil­ity that the dis­ease could be brought to Ge­or­gia this fall by mi­gra­tory birds fly­ing south for the win­ter.

“With all the talk about avian flu th­ese days, the most im­por­tant thing con­sumers need to keep in mind is that prop­erly cooked and han­dled poul­try prod­ucts in­clud­ing meat and eggs are still safe to eat. All com­mer­cially pro­duced poul­try is tested for avian in­fluenza prior to be­ing al­lowed to be pro­cessed for hu­man con­sump­tion,” said Polk County Farm Bureau Pres­i­dent James Casey.

To pre­vent the pos­si­ble spread of the HPAI virus, the USDA has is­sued biose­cu­rity rec­om­men­da­tions for both com­mer­cial poul­try pro­duc­ers who grow for com­pa­nies and for peo­ple who just have a few chick­ens in their back­yard. Most of the rec­om­men­da­tions are sim­ple and have the pur­pose of pre­vent­ing com­mer­cial poul­try or back­yard chick­ens from be­ing ex­posed to mi­gra­tory wild wa­ter­fowl that may carry the virus.

Ex­am­ples of biose­cu­rity mea­sures the USDA rec­om­mends for com­mer­cial poul­try pro­duc­ers to fol­low are: only wear shoes and clothes in poul­try houses that aren’t worn any­where out­side the house or use a boot wash be­fore en­ter­ing the poul­try house; bird proof poul­try houses; don’t let wild birds build nests close by and don’t let wa­ter­fowl re­side on nearby ponds; don’t en­ter your poul­try house di­rectly af­ter hunt­ing or af­ter be­ing in con­tact with any other birds.

The USDA rec­om­mends the fol­low­ing biose­cu­rity mea­sures for own­ers of back­yard poul­try flocks: Don’t al­low your flock to have con­tact with wild birds. If your birds are out­doors keep them in a screened area. Have a pair of shoes and set of clothes to wear only around your birds. Clean cages and change food daily. Keep any new birds or birds that have been off-site sep­a­rate from your flock for at least 30 days.

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