DON’T LET AVIAN FLU STOP YOU FROM EAITING CHICKEN AND TURKEY
Many of you remember an avian flu outbreak in 2015. Because this flu was so contagious to turkeys and chickens, the outbreak ultimately caused the death of 9 million birds throughout our state. As you can imagine, this had disastrous impacts not only on our poultry farmers, but Minnesota’s agricultural economy as well.
Recent news suggests another outbreak may be on the way, as cases of the highly pathogenetic avian flu (HPAI), continue to be detected in the upper Midwest. More than a dozen flocks in Minnesota have already been hit.
The good news is that Minnesota is in a better spot today to handle an outbreak than it was in 2015. Back then, the legislature provided significant funds to help deal with the emergency and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) instituted numerous biosecurity measures meant to slow the spread of avian flu if another outbreak came to Minnesota.
I want to take this opportunity to remind residents that even though you may be hearing a lot about HPAI in the news in the weeks and months ahead, turkey and chicken products remain safe to eat.
In the past, we’ve seen a decline in the purchase of turkey and chickens (avian flu) and pork (swine flu) because people fear they might be eating contaminated meat. The reality is the poultry products that are available on the market are perfectly wholesome. In fact, consumers would be doing the poultry industry a great service if they bought more turkey and chicken from the supermarket during these uncertain times.
It’s not just huge turkey farms that are impacted by HPAI, as the outbreak could just as easily affect backyard chicken flocks. So, if you own 3 birds or 300, I strongly encourage you to visit Minnesota’s Board of Animal Health websites to learn more about HPAI and what you can do to combat it.
Tips for backyard poultry owners can be found at www.bah.state.mn.us/media/HPAI-Notice-Backyard-Final.pdf. Comprehensive poultry biosecurity steps can be read at www.bah.state.mn.us/poultry/#biosecurity.