Flu scare-rattled poultry industry reassures consumers

Breeders association claims chickens at CPDO not affected

Flu scare-rattled poultry industry reassures consumers

The Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association has assured the people of the State about the safety of consuming poultry products.

Their reassurance comes in the wake of the avian flu scare. The Association has asked people not to be anxious about the resultant crisis in the poultry sector.

The virus was first detected among turkeys at the Central Poultry Development Organisation (CPDO) in Bangalore. As a result, thousands of birds were culled at the CPDO and the entire facility was sanitised. The checking zones set up around the CPDO premises has cost the government crores of rupees.

“When the virus first broke out at the facility, only turkeys were affected. The chickens were not infected at all. But they were culled with the other birds as a precaution to check the spread of the virus,” said Sunil, a poultry trader who is a member of the Association.

Serious testing

Arvind Jannu, Principal Secretary to the Department of Animal Husbandry, does not agree and claims these are only allegations.

“Samples for avian flu have tested positive. The testing was done in the best lab in the country and is a very meticulous and tedious process. Statements about avian flu are not irresponsibly given and are based on thorough investigations. Our exports will be affected if the tests go wrong,” he said.   

Sunil’s poultry business has suffered financial losses ever since news of the virus spread in the city. The rate of chickens in normal times was Rs 120 to Rs 140 a kg. With the current scare, traders have been forced to sell poultry at absurdly low prices. “I have to sell my broilers for Rs 50 a kg. But, there have been times in the past when I sold the chickens for as low as Rs 20 a kg,” he said 

Hard-hit industry

C S Srinivas, another poultry farmer, is also a graduate in veterinary science. Before the outbreak of the virus, Srinivas said his production was 60,000 chickens and income Rs 2.5 lakh per week. But his business has plummeted since the flu scare.

The high price of soyabeans, which is used as poultry feed, had gone up sharply from Rs 16 to Rs 56 per kg in February. With the avian flu scare, our financial problems have been compounded, he said.

He claimed that the outbreak of avian flu in Maharashtra in 2008 was better managed through a public awareness campaign.

“The Indian Medical Association of Maharashtra had ruled that eating chicken was safe, when it was cooked at or above 70 degrees Celsius. In the Indian style of cooking, chicken is normally cooked above 70 degrees Celsius, which is enough to destroy the virus,” he said.

The Association said nearly 44 lakh families had been directly or indirectly affected by the downturn in the poultry business.

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