OSAKA – The meat, eggs and body parts of chickens from a farm hit with bird flu were shipped to 23 prefectures, even after chickens there started dying in large numbers Feb. 20, it was learned Tuesday.
Government authorities and experts have urged consumers not to panic. No humans have contracted the disease after eating the meat or eggs of infected chickens, they said.
Since January, Yamaguchi, Oita and Kyoto prefectures have had outbreaks of bird flu.
Chickens at Asada Nosan Co.’s Funai Nojo farm in Tanba, Kyoto Prefecture, home to the latest outbreak, began dying in large numbers Feb. 20, but the farm did not notify the authorities. Kyoto Prefectural Government officials inspected the farm Feb. 27 after receiving an anonymous tip.
Flawed communications among local governments caused delays in response measures and failed to prevent shipments of eggs and meat from the farm from reaching the market.
Even after chickens started dying en masse at Funai farm, a total 15,150 live chickens were shipped to Arinobe, a processing company in Yachiyo, Hyogo Prefecture, and another chicken processor in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture.
Meat from the chickens processed at the Yachiyo firm were shipped to Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Shimane prefectures. Although most of the meat was later collected, some was sold to consumers in the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe.
The Toyohashi processor shipped some of the meat to a food processing company in Niigata Prefecture that was later returned to the processor, frozen.
The Kyoto Prefectural Government said Tuesday a total 986,500 eggs from Funai farm were shipped to 17 prefectures on or after Feb. 20.
Most of the eggs have been collected from supermarket shelves, Kyoto officials said.
Supermarket chain operator Aeon Co. said it has suspended its business with Asada Nosan, from which it had been buying eggs for sale at its chain stores.
Aeon said it had not been informed of the huge number of chicken deaths at the Funai farm. Under their business contract, Asada Nosan is required to issue a notice in such cases.
During the eight days beginning Feb. 20, Aeon sold 17,700 packs of eggs supplied by Asada Nosan, including those from the Funai farm, at 119 stores in Kyoto, Osaka, Yamaguchi, Ishikawa and 12 other prefectures. Each pack contained four, six or 10 eggs.
The 119 stores, including 84 Jusco supermarkets, are working to recover some of the eggs they have sold, Aeon said.
A food company in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, purchased 8.67 tons of eggs from
Funai farm. Some of the eggs were boiled and shipped to Aomori, Nagano and Shizuoka prefectures for use in boxed lunches.
Kanagawa Prefecture has said it does not plan to call for the boiled eggs to be collected because they pose no health risk if they have been subjected to sufficient heat.
Shipments of live chickens from Funai farm caused further infections.
At the Yachiyo, Hyogo Prefecture, processing firm, chickens from Okayama Prefecture that were kept with the birds from Funai farm also contracted bird flu.
The bones, internal organs and feathers that remained after the chickens were slaughtered at the Yachiyo company were shipped to a firm in Kagawa Prefecture. Authorities have found the bird flu virus in two samples of feathers extracted from the processing equipment.
Unused body parts from the chickens processed at the Toyohashi company were transported to a company in Mie Prefecture, where they were processed into meat-and-bone meal and fat. None of these products were shipped from the company, but officials had to disinfect the trucks that carried the parts and facilities that had transactions with the Mie firm.