Greater vigilance needed to prevent avian flu outbreak

EU - Food processors, especially those pasturising egg whites and importing poultry ingredients from abroad, should remain vigilant, according to advice on avian influenza from the EU's food safety regulator.

The advice also notes that the standard of 54.4C for seven days used for dried egg white would be inadequate for acceptable heat inactivation of the virus and should therefore be reconsidered when imports of such products take place.

An alarm is now spreading across European countries as worries mount that a virulent form of bird flu could spread westwards from Siberia. Experts are saying that the H5N1 form of the virus could spread into the poultry population here, carried by migratory fowl.

The mutation could lead to illnesses and event death in humans.

If the disease hits here the EU might have to cull entire flocks to stop the disease from spreading and infecting humans, raising not only a supply problem for food processors, but also a drop in consumption due to consumers fears.

European consumers are increasing concerned about food safety, mainly due to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) scare in cattle, a foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001 and of avian flu in 2003. In the EU poultry consumption overtook demand for beef and veal in 1996, when BSE hit the headlines.

calendar icon 27 January 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
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