NYC Parents, Students & Advocates Call for Closing Live Animal Markets Amid Avian Flu Outbreak
This press release, by New York City’s Coalition for Healthy School Food, includes a statement by United Poultry Concerns about the contribution of live animal slaughter markets to bird flu and other contagious diseases. UPC is a signatory to the Coalition’s letter to NYC’s Mayor and New York’s Governor, which was published in full by the Brooklyn Eagle.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2022
NEW VIDEO & LETTER: NYC PARENTS, STUDENTS & ADVOCATES CALL FOR TEMPORARY HALT ON LIVE ANIMAL SLAUGHTER MARKETS IN NYC AMID AVIAN FLU OUTBREAK
In New Letter & Video, Communities Call on Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams To Pause Neighborhood Slaughter Markets Until Risk Assessment is Conducted
NEW YORK – A coalition of parents, students and advocacy organizations today launched a digital media campaign and sent a letter to Gov. Hochul, Mayor Adams and others calling for a temporary halt on live animal slaughter markets in New York City neighborhoods until a risk assessment is conducted. The coalition cited the current spread of H5N1 avian flu throughout New York State and the possibility that it could mutate into a strain that infects humans as the central reason to suspend the slaughter markets, especially those located in the close vicinity of schools. Over 100 schools and playgrounds are located near these retail slaughter markets that have been described as “breeding grounds for the spread of diseases” by health experts and physicians.
Public school parent Irma Labiosa said, “My son and I walk past a slaughter market every single day to and from his school, which is just around the corner, and we are horrified by the crates of birds we see outside being delivered off trucks and the feces left all over the sidewalk. This kind of place with these health risks would not be located on the Upper East Side, so why do our kids have to deal with it in East Williamsburg? The Covid pandemic started in a live-animal slaughter market, and now avian flu is spreading - yet this slaughter market operates here, in the middle of our neighborhood. It's just wrong and it needs to be stopped."
Dr. Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns said, “It makes no sense to halt live poultry shows to reduce the risk to New Yorkers of avian influenza and related respiratory infections while allowing live poultry slaughter markets to stay in business. These markets are rife with pathogens among the highly stressed, frequently sick birds who sit in cages on the street outside the markets waiting to be caged within these unhygienic establishments with no barriers to pedestrian traffic. The USDA is urging all bird owners to enhance their biosecurity procedures, yet these markets have none.”
“Health experts have called these retail slaughter markets ‘breeding grounds for the spread of diseases.’ So why are over 70 of these markets operating in densely populated areas with animal blood, guts and waste within feet of children going to school? There’s no question that the current operation of these neighborhood slaughterhouses is creating conditions that could lead to the next pandemic. The City and State must take action now to suspend these slaughter markets until a complete risk assessment takes place,” said Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS.
Additional New York- based advocacy organizations supporting this effort include: New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (NYCLASS), NY Farm Animal Save, Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Tamerlaine Sanctuary and Preserve, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, Pandemic Free World, Institute for Animal Happiness, Their Turn, and Long Island Orchestrating for Nature.
A copy of the full letter is below:
April 19, 2022
Mayor Eric Adams
NYC City Hall
New York, NY 10007
The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul,
We are writing to you on behalf of parents of New York City school students to seek your help in protecting children in New York City.
Given the current spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu throughout New York State and the possibility that it could mutate into a strain that infects humans, we believe that the operation of New York City’s 70+ live animal slaughter markets, especially those located in close proximity to schools, should be suspended until a risk assessment is conducted.
In New York City, over 100 schools and playgrounds are located near live animal markets. These retail slaughter markets have been described as “breeding grounds for the spread of diseases” by health experts and physicians. As this new video shows, children and their guardians walk past these markets on their way to and from school. Sometimes, the public sidewalks in front of these neighborhood slaughterhouses are contaminated with bird feces, blood, and other biohazards. These conditions would never be tolerated in wealthy neighborhoods, yet they are unfairly forced upon marginalized communities.
Dozens of crates, filled with hundreds of birds and their waste, are often left out on public streets for hours at a time outside the markets. Children can step in and track these hazardous materials into their schools, onto playgrounds, onto the subways, into their homes, and all over the city, potentially exposing their communities and all New Yorkers to many different infectious diseases. Despite hundreds of reports and complaints that have been filed with city and state agencies, hazardous conditions have not improved, even during a global pandemic caused by unsanitary conditions at an animal slaughter market.
New York City’s 70+ storefront slaughterhouses are open to the public, operate in densely populated neighborhoods, and are located next to or near homes, businesses, public transportation, schools, and playgrounds. Anyone can enter these live animal markets to purchase birds without protective gear and walk among the tightly confined animals of different species.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that H5N1 flu, the virus that is spreading among chickens and other birds in New York, can infect the respiratory tract of humans, causing severe illnesses, such as pneumonia and respiratory failure, and death. The CDC also warns of the possibility of bird flu viruses mutating into a strain that could infect and spread among humans.
Even the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) recognizes the risk of this avian flu outbreak, at least to birds, because they have banned all fowl exhibitions in the state. We find it concerning that DAM is concerned about the health of the birds, but no government agency seems concerned about the potential human health risks.
Every chicken, turkey, duck, goose, and other live bird sold and slaughtered in these live markets is a potential source of infection, which can spread among the birds and potentially to humans, including those who are most vulnerable.
We are calling for the immediate suspension of the operation of the 70+ live animal markets in New York City until public health experts and scientists can determine whether they can operate safely in a densely populated city. Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul have the authority to issue an Emergency Executive Order to suspend their operation in order to avert a zoonotic disease outbreak that could lead to another global pandemic.
The children of this city deserve safe and wholesome environments where they can learn, play, and thrive. They should not be exposed to the dangerous and unhealthy conditions these animal slaughter markets present simply by attending school or enjoying playgrounds.
Irma Labiosa, parent of a NYC public-school child
Sabina Makhdomi, parent of a NYC school child
Jillian Marie Mariscal, parent of a NYC school child
Stewart Mitchell, parent of a NYC public-school child
Coalition for Healthy School Food
United Poultry Concerns
New York City Department of Education
New York City Department of Health
New York City Council Education Committee
New York City Council Health Committee
Commissioner Richard Ball, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets