Bird flu fears weaken French poultry producers

14th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 13 2006 (AFP) - Leading poultry farms in France, Europe's biggest poultry producer, said on Monday they were preparing to lay off staff as "irrational" fears about bird flu took its toll on consumption.

PARIS, Feb 13 2006 (AFP) - Leading poultry farms in France, Europe's biggest poultry producer, said on Monday they were preparing to lay off staff as "irrational" fears about bird flu took its toll on consumption.

Since the beginning of January, demand has fallen by 12 percent compared to the same period last year, Poultry Industry Federation president Alain Melot told AFP.

Although no cases of bird flu had been detected in France and eating chicken posed no risk of infection, free-range producers were even harder hit, with consumption down 30 percent.

"The situation is extremely difficult and problematic because the crisis is becoming global," said Cyrille Arcamone, spokesman for the country's second biggest producer, Doux.

The French agriculture ministry has ordered free-range birds in more than half of its 96 mainland departments to be kept indoors to reduce the risk of catching the virus from wild birds.

The deadly H5N1 bird flu virus that has killed about 90 people in Asia, Turkey and northern Iraq has now been detected in wild swans in France's neighbour, Italy, as well as in Greece, Bulgaria and Slovenia.

But several experts said the authorities in many departments had granted many free-range producers special permission to let their birds run free.

The government has banned live birds from all markets and trade fairs throughout the country, including the huge annual Agricultural Fair in Paris from February 25 to March 5.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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