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More Checking on Hong Kong Chicken Farm Deaths

The government will strengthen the monitoring of chicken deaths on farms in Hong Kong in view of the spread of avian influenza in the Asian region.

Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Thomas Chan said an ad hoc daily door-to-door dead chicken collection service would be provided for farms starting from today.

The decision was made after a meeting between the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the New Territories Chicken Breeders Association, he said.

Until now, farmers have left their dead chickens at designated animal carcass collection points for collection by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, said Chan.

Chicken deaths at a certain rate are an ordinary phenomenon. But given the flu situation in Asia, "Our staff will look for any sign of abnormalities in terms of the number of dead chickens and symptoms of avian influenza in chickens. If abnormalities are identified in chickens, we will take samples for testing of avian influenza," he said.

The move was supported by the New Territories Chicken Breeders Association.

Beginning on Friday, farmers will no longer be allowed to dispose of dead chickens at animal carcass collection points. Any farm that contravenes the rule may have its licence revoked, stressed Chan.

Meanwhile, chicken-egg exports into Hong Kong from areas on the mainland that have not been affected by avian influenza outbreaks will continue, according to the latest notification received from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine last night.

The mainland has banned egg exports for up to six months from 23 infected areas in 12 provinces.

Egg prices at some grocery stores already rose slightly yesterday, while those at supermarkets remained stable.

Citizens are advised to wash egg surfaces before storage and cook eggs thoroughly before eating. They are also advised to wash hands after handling eggs.

Local confectioneries and bakeries in Hong Kong said they might have to switch to foreign eggs should the prices of Chinese eggs rise too high.

One restaurateur said if the cost of eggs is too high, he may have to introduce other types of dessert in place of those in which eggs must be used as an ingredient.

(China Daily HK Edition February 5, 2004)

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