Greeks take poultry off menu

Poultry sales have plummeted by up to 40 percent recently as fears that bird flu will enter Greece from Turkey have driven consumers to opt for other meat on their dinner table, an industry representative said yesterday. Costas Yantzitzoglou, a board member from the Union of Poultry Businesses (SPE), said that sales have fallen by between 30 and 40 percent despite continued reassurances from authorities that eating chicken and eggs is completely safe. «The television footage showing miserable chicken farms in Turkey is completely removed from the reality of Greek chicken farms,» said Yantzitzoglou. Organized poultry businesses are strictly controlled and certified, Yantzitzoglou added. Greece produces 110 million chickens and 1 billion eggs every year in an industry that employs nearly 15,000 people and has annual sales of 750 million euros. The sector was hit hard in October, when a bird flu scare resulted in local poultry sales dropping by 60 to 70 percent. Authorities are continuing efforts aimed at protecting Greece from the disease that has been blamed for killing four children in Turkey. On a tour of the Dodecanese Islands yesterday, Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Bassiakos told local officials on Samos that funds had been set aside to cover the cost of employing personnel to disinfect and clean parts of the island to combat a possible outbreak of bird flu. The resources are there to implement action plans, Bassiakos assured islanders. Meanwhile, Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Antonis Bezas said that extra staff have been put on duty at customs posts and have been ordered to conduct detailed searches on any travelers passing through.

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