French Ministers Move to Reassure Consumers as Bird Flu Spreads

FRANCE - Two government ministers have said there is no danger to humans from consuming food products from poultry infected with avian influenza, following a series of outbreaks of the disease in southern France.
calendar icon 15 December 2015
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The French government announced two more outbreaks of the disease yesterday, bringing the total number of highly pathogenic outbreaks to 15.

Another outbreak was detected in Bosset, Dordogne region. The outbreak, of the H5N1 strain, affected a flock of over one thousand ducks.

The second new outbreak was detected in Doazit in Landes, and affected a flock of 1700 ducks with the H5N1 strain.

There have also been three low pathogenic outbreaks.

Minister of agriculture, food and forestry, Stéphane Le Foll, and Marisol Touraine, Minister of social affairs, health and rights of women held a press conference on Monday to reassure consumers.

Following the detection of the first highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak, the minister said they had asked the French department in charge of food, environmental and occupational health and safety (ANSES) to assess how dangerous the viruses are for humans, as a precaution.

ANSES issued its final report yesterday on the potential for pathogenicity in humans of the H5N1 strain found at the original outbreak in Dordogne. It concluded that the particular virus did not contain the main markers for virulence in humans.

The two ministers also told consumers that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease and Control (ECDC) say there is no evidence indicating that the avian influenza virus is transmitted to humans through the consumption of contaminated food, especially poultry products and eggs.

The ministers therefore confirmed that the avian influenza currently present on the national territory is not transmissible to humans through the consumption of meat, eggs, foie gras and more generally any food product.

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