Anger as French mayor bans chicken in schools

3rd March 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 3, 2006 (AFP) - The mayor of a French town who banned chicken from school dinners because of the bird flu scare provoked an angry reaction Friday from poultry producers.

PARIS, March 3, 2006 (AFP) - The mayor of a French town who banned chicken from school dinners because of the bird flu scare provoked an angry reaction Friday from poultry producers.

Joel Boutier issued a decree Thursday removing chicken from the menu in canteens for four weeks in the town of Groslay north of Paris as a "precautionary measure following numerous appeals from worried parents."

Martin Malvy, president of the Midi-Pyrenees region which includes a major chicken farming area in the Gers department, wrote to Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin asking him to condemn the measure as "inopportune and unjustified."

"Drawing on statements from the entire scientific community, the government has been saying repeatedly to our fellow citizens that eating poultry is entirely without risk," Malvy said in the letter.

Over the last fortnight France has had some 30 cases of the H5N1 virus in wild birds as well as an outbreak in a turkey farm -- all in the Ain department near the Swiss border.

Meanwhile Philippe Breton, bishop of Dax in southwest France, issued an appeal to the faithful to keep eating poultry.

"I ask Catholics in the Landes department to keep their heads, to maintain their traditional eating habits and to eat poultry as usual, notably during the season of Lent which has just begun," Breton said in a message to be read out in churches over the weekend.

"In the Landes several farmers are now in great difficulty, and many face serious financial problems. Some fear they could lose their jobs very soon," he said.

The Landes department, a major poultry and foie-gras producing area, is the location of a limited vaccination programme on free-range geese and ducks.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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