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HEALTH

France to cull over one million birds to fight avian flu

Ducks, chickens and turkeys are being culled in some 226 municipalities in southwest France to prevent the spread of bird flu - much to the distress of farmers.

The French government have ordered the slaughter of more than one million poultry birds to deal with an avian flu outbreak
The French government have ordered the slaughter of more than one million poultry birds to deal with an avian flu outbreak (Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP)

The French government said Thursday that it would cull more than one million birds in the coming weeks to fight a surging outbreak of avian flu on poultry farms.

All ducks, chickens and turkeys must be culled in some 226 municipalities in France’s southwestern Landes, Gers and Pyrenees Atlantiques departments, totalling up to 1.3 million birds.

“It will take us about three weeks to clear the whole area,” the agriculture ministry said.

By wiping out the populations where the virus is spreading, officials hope to shorten the outbreak and prevent it from reaching other poultry-raising regions.

Over one million birds have already been killed in attempts to smother the avian flu outbreak that began in late November.

Farmers in the region, famous for its lucrative but controversial foie gras liver pate, are compensated for the culled animals.

READ MORE French family defend naming their son Canard (duck)

The ministry plans to requisition abattoirs and pull in large numbers of workers, including vet school students, to speed up the process.

Several European countries are now battling a highly contagious flu strain, H5N1, just a year after a similar virus decimated flocks.

Four bird flu outbreaks have hit France and especially the southwest since 2015, with 3.5 million poultry killed last winter.

Measures like quarantines at times of potential contact with migrating wild birds, and reduced densities at duck farms, “were necessary, but haven’t been enough,” said Herve Dupouy, a duck farmer and a farmers’ union leader in Landes.

“We’re desperate, farmers’ morale is poor. How can we look to the future beyond the situation we’re experiencing, with dead animals on our farms?” he said.

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FOOD & DRINK

Kinder pulls 3,000 tonnes of products after salmonella cases

Children in nine European countries, including 81 in France, were affected

Kinder pulls 3,000 tonnes of products after salmonella cases

More than 3,000 tonnes of Kinder products have been withdrawn from the market over salmonella fears leaving a dent of tens of millions of euros, a company official has told France’s Le Parisien.

Nicolas Neykov, the head of Ferrero France, said the contamination came “from a filter located in a vat for dairy butter”, at a factory in Arlon in Belgium.

He said the contamination could have been caused by humans or raw materials.

Chocolate products made at the factory in Arlon, southeastern Belgium, were found to contain salmonella, resulting in 150 cases in nine European countries.

Eighty-one of these were in France, mainly affecting children under 10 years old.

The factory’s closure and the health concerns were blows to its owner, Italian confectionery giant Ferrero, coming at the height of the Easter holiday season when its Kinder chocolates are sought-after supermarket buys.

“This crisis is heartbreaking. It’s the biggest removal of products in the last 20 years,” Neykov said.

But the company hoped to be able to start up the factory again, with 50 percent of health and safety inspections to be carried out by an approved “external laboratory” in the future, instead of the previous system of only internal reviews.

“We have asked for a reopening from June 13 to relaunch production as soon as possible,” he added.

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