Canberra [Australia], June 11: Australia is not at risk of an egg shortage despite an outbreak of avian influenza, the agriculture minister has said.
Murray Watt on Tuesday said there is no reason for Australians to be worried about a national shortage of eggs after the highly pathogenic H7N3 strain of bird flu was detected at five farms in the state of Victoria.
He told state media Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television that 1 million hens have been euthanized or otherwise affected by the outbreak, representing approximately four percent of Australia's national flock of egg-laying chickens.
In response, Coles -- one of Australia's two largest supermarket chains -- has limited the number of eggs customers can buy to two cartons in all stores across the nation except in Western Australia (WA).
However, Watt said there was no cause for alarm about the supply of eggs.
"Every day Australia produces 18 million eggs and there's no risk to that supply stopping any time soon," he said.
Watt said that the outbreak would have affected more farms if not for a quick quarantine response from the Victorian government but said he could not guarantee that it has been entirely contained.
"I can't rule out that it'd be spreading further, but obviously every effort is being put in by the Victorian government, backed by ourselves," he said.
He said the strain of avian influenza that has been detected in Victoria is not the deadly strain that has been detected elsewhere in the world and said Australians can continue to eat eggs safely.
Source: Xinhua