Fri, Jun 8, 2007 4:04 pm
To the Editor:
In Lauren Darson’s article, “Poultry markets ruffle feathers” (June 4), supporters of live bird markets claim the markets provide fresher meat and more reliable standards than do supermarkets.
However, others note that birds in live markets are kept in unsanitary crates and cages. Customers say they choose the markets because they “like to know” what they are buying, but in fact, they don’t know.
Birds awaiting their death in New York’s live markets come from many different sources including poultry dealers, other live markets, industrial operations, and people’s backyards. They tend to be older, “spent,” and surplus birds gathered up by dealers. A dealer in Pennsylvania (Gingrich) supplies many birds to the New York trade. However, New York State Veterinarian Dr. John Huntley told me in an interview in 1995, concerning the sources of the dealers’ birds: “We don’t know the state of origin.”
Many birds in live markets are visibly sick, suffering, and dehydrated, as can be seen in the video “Inside a Live Poultry Market,” taped on Ely Street in the Bronx in 2003 (www.upc-online.org/nr/121704livemarket.htm).
Live bird markets are linked to avian influenza outbreaks around the world including the United States. For example, in 2004, four live bird markets in north Jersey tested positive for a strain of avian flu virus linked to industrial farms in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
While live bird markets have been called a “time bomb” with respect to the incubation and spread of the avian influenza virus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its state counterparts refuse to shut them down. Yet this would be a prudent step consistent with the widespread poultry infections in which live bird markets along with standard commercial operations are implicated.
President, United Poultry Concerns