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Trinidad and Tobago Chicken safe to eat

PORT OF SPAIN – Director of the Public Health Unit of the Ministry of Health, Dr Saeed Rahaman, says there is no threat of anyone contracting avian influenza (bird flu) or aspergillosis from eating poultry products produced in Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr. Rahaman was speaking at a news conference called by the Ministries of Agriculture and Health last week Tuesday, January 17, to ease the fears of the public following the recent outbreak of aspergillosis in chicken farms in Cumuto.

Aspergillosis is a disease, usually of the respiratory system, affecting chickens, turkeys and less frequently ducklings, pigeons, canaries, geese and many other wild and pet birds. Chicks and poults (young turkeys or other domesticated fowls) may become infected during hatching after inhaling spores in heavily contaminated hatching machines or from contaminated litter. In older birds, infection is caused primarily by inhalation of spore-laden dust from contaminated litter, feed or dusty range areas.

Dr Rahaman said the disease cannot be transmitted to humans by physical contact or through eating the meat and the affected birds will probably never reach the market as they die before they are old enough. He said the Ministry of Health is doing everything possible to ensure the public health is secure. Inspectors are monitoring all stages of the slaughtering process.

Robin Phillips of the Poultry Association said an average person eats 40-50 chickens per year and about 50 million chickens are eaten every year. He reassured the public that it is safe to eat poultry and his Association is working very closely with the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs to ensure a safe supply of chicken.

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