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Avian flu briefing – what you need to know

07 April 2006

Avian flu has come to Britain and as hysteria takes hold across the nation it's time to get a grasp of the facts so you can deal with your customers' queries.

Confirmation this week that a dead swan found in Fife, Scotland, had the H5N1 strain of bird flu prompted the Scottish Executive to introduce a 965sq mile high-risk zone around the area and to restrict the movement of farmed poultry.

Although dangerous to birds, the flu has affected few people worldwide and is only a risk factor for those working closely with infected animals.

Cooked poultry is completely safe as the virus is destroyed during cooking, so from a food safety point there isn't a problem serving it.

Scientists are, however, concerned about the possibility the virus will mutate and become infective to humans causing a flu pandemic like the Spanish Influenza last century.

British Hospitality Association chief executive Bob Cotton has voiced concern about the negative effects the outbreak could have on poultry sales and has suggested hospitality operators think about menu alternatives.

For the latest facts on the outbreak visit:

Farmers Weekly - Avian Flu special report >>

Food Standards Agency >>

BBC Q&A Bird Flu >>

By Chris Druce

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