Consumer Goods Council of South Africa Calls For Government To Declare Avian Influenza Outbreak National Disaster

Johannesburg, 18 October 2017 – The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) has called on the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to declare the outbreak of the Avian Flu a national disaster to allow government to allocate additional funds to help affected farmers and save the poultry industry from collapse.

Gareth Ackerman, the co-chair of the CGCSA says since the outbreak of the Avian Flu more than four months ago, more than 2 million birds have been culled in the Western Cape alone and over 70% of the province’s egg production destroyed.

The Avian Flu has since spread to other parts of Gauteng and Mpumalanga where several farms have been affected and over 200 000 birds culled as a result.

“The situation has reached a crisis point and we urge the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to declare Avian Flu a national disaster because at this rate, we will not have a poultry industry to talk of. This poses not only a serious food security threat, but also significant job losses in the poultry industry and in the supply chain,” Ackerman says.

“As it is, our retailers are facing reduced supply because of the shortage of poultry meat and eggs to sell and as we know, poultry products are relatively cheaper source of protein for the majority of people, especially those in the low-income and poor areas. A shortage of chickens means national food security is threatened with devastating consequences,” he says.

Ackerman says the CGCSA has called for an urgent meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to discuss how the industry and government can work together to deal with the outbreak.

“We believe this meeting is now more than ever before urgent given the fact that the Avian Flu has not been contained and the risk of further outbreaks across South African cannot be ruled out. It is a matter of great concern to the CGCSA and our members that we work with the government to help poultry farmers,” says Ackerman.

Avian influenza affects all types of birds (chickens, wild birds etc.). Avian influenza moves from chicken to chicken easily and very quickly. Since the outbreak in Villiers and recently reported on a second farm, it is suggested that the virus is spread and transmitted by, infected migrating wild birds. Avian influenza generally does not affect people. This type of bird flu, specifically the H5N8 strain is not known to have caused any death or serious sickness in people.

Public Health advice:

  • Avoid contact with any birds (poultry or wild birds) or other animals that are sick or are found dead and report them to the relevant authorities.
  • Wash hands properly with soap or a suitable disinfectant.
  • Follow good food safety and good food hygiene practices by cooking poultry and poultry products thoroughly at high temperatures.
  • CGCSA would like to assure consumers that uncooked, slaughtered, packed poultry and poultry products, as well as cooked poultry products purchased from reputable stores and supermarkets are safe to buy, prepare and consume. There is no need to panic or not purchase these products.