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Official defends ban on live poultry stocking overnight
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Hong Kong's health department head said Wednesday the ban on overnight stocking of live poultry at retail outlets is feasible, adding the trade should be more pragmatic and realistic on compensation issues.

Dr. York Chow, secretary for Food and Health of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, told the press that inspections would be stepped up to ensure stall operators adhere to the new requirement.

The city's live chicken sales resumed on Wednesday after a three-week suspension due to bird flu H5N1-postive testings of droppings of live chickens in two markets.

The H5N1-postive results of the testings triggered a city-wide culling of live poultry in Hong Kong's marketplaces and the three- week trading ban earlier in June.

A total of 25,000 live chickens, 7,000 of which were imported from the Chinese mainland, hit the market on Wednesday as the HKSAR government revised ordinance to ban stocking of live poultry overnight in a bid to prevent possible spread of the deadly strain of H5N1 virus.

Under the revised ordinance, retail stores of live poultry must cull all live poultry after 20:00 everyday and offenders of the revised ordinance may face the revoking of trade license and prosecution.

On the proposed compensation for voluntarily withdrawing from poultry business, Chow said poultry retailers can indicate their interest by July 24 while farmers, wholesalers and transport operators can do so by September 24.

He said the compensation package was proposed as the trade said it cannot survive with the daily chicken culling requirement, stressing the proposed compensation level has reached its ceiling.

"Therefore, I urge the poultry trade to be more pragmatic on the issue," he said.

But representatives of poultry farmers, wholesalers and transport operators said they are considering to lodge an appeal to the Higher Court for a legal review of the HKSAR government's amended ordinance.

(Xinhua News Agency July 3, 2008)

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