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Bird flu found in largest fresh egg producer in US, production halted – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth


Bird flu found in largest fresh egg producer in US, production halted – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

The largest producer of fresh eggs in the United States said Tuesday that it has stopped production at a Texas plant after bird flu was found in chickens there.

Ridgeland, Mississippi-based Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. said in a statement that approximately 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets, about 3.6% of its total flock, were destroyed after the infection, avian influenza, was found at the facility in Parmer County, Texas.

This is absolutely devastating news for Cal-Maine and the entire Panhandle region which has already suffered so much already. Given this latest development, all producers must practice heightened biosecurity measures. The rapid spread of this virus means we must act quickly.

Commissioner Sid Miller, Texas Department of Agriculture

The plant is on the Texas-New Mexico border in the Texas Panhandle about 85 miles southwest of Amarillo and about 370 miles northwest of Dallas.

“The company continues to work closely with federal, state and local government officials and focused industry groups to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks and effectively manage the response,” according to the statement. “Cal-Maine Foods is working to secure production from other facilities to minimize disruption to its customers.”

The company said there is no known bird flu risk associated with eggs that are currently in the market and no eggs have been recalled. Miller echoed the statement, saying the risk to the public is minimal.

“The current risk to the public remains minimal,” Miller said. “It is important for us as an industry to maintain a high level of vigilance. State and national agencies will continue to provide updated guidance as developments warrant.”

Eggs that are properly handled and cooked are safe to eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The announcement by Cal-Maine comes a day after state health officials said a person had been diagnosed with bird flu after being in contact with cows presumed to be infected, and that the risk to the public remains low.

The human case marks the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal, federal health officials said.

Dairy cows in Texas and Kansas were reported to be infected with bird flu last week — and federal agriculture officials later confirmed infections in a Michigan dairy herd that had recently received cows from Texas.

Cal-Maine sells the majority of its eggs in the Southwestern, Southeastern, Midwestern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, the company said.

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