Largest egg producer in the US reports bird flu outbreak

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By Ken Miller | Associated Press

The largest producer of fresh eggs in the U.S. said Tuesday it had temporarily halted production at a Texas plant after bird flu was found in chickens, and officials said the virus had also been detected at poultry facility in Michigan.

In Texas, 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.

The plant is on the Texas-New Mexico border in the Texas Panhandle about 85 miles (137 kilometers) southwest of Amarillo and about 370 miles (595 kilometers) 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 statement said.

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.

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.

In Michigan, Michigan State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has detected bird flu in a commercial poultry facility in Ionia County, according to the Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The county is about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.

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