Poultry products in Georgia safe for consumers
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.