Tyson Foods acknowledged that the Kentucky broiler flock that was confirmed on February 14 to have been affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza was part of its operations.

Officials from the gKentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported that HPAI had been confirmed in a broiler flock in Fulton County, Kentucky, but did not identify the farm, the integrator or the number of birds in the flock.

However, Gary Mickelson, spokesman for Tyson Foods, confirmed in an emailed statement that the flock was being raised for Tyson, and that the company was working with animal health agencies in the response.

“We are actively working with state and federal officials to prevent the spread of the virus. Although the origin of the infection is not known, avian influenza has been found in migratory wild birds which play a significant role in spreading the disease,” the statement read. 

“Tyson Foods is prepared for situations like this, and we have robust plans in place, which we are now executing. This includes heightening biosecurity measures at other farms in the region, placing additional restrictions on outside visitors and continuing our practice of testing all flocks for avian influenza before birds leave the farms. Tyson Foods’ chicken products remain safe: the USDA confirms that avian influenza does not pose a food safety risk to consumers in poultry that is properly prepared and cooked.”

Advertisement

While like APHIS and KDA, Tyson Foods did not disclose the number of birds at the affected farm, Mickelson stated that because the Kentucky farm is “only one of thousands of farms that raise chickens for our company, the situation is not expected to impact our overall chicken production levels.”

APHIS announced its intent to notify the World Organisation for Animal Health about the avian influenza case, but a report on the situation had not appeared on the OIE website by the time this article was being written.

A Reuters report stated that there were 240,000 broilers in the affected flock.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.