Despite mass slaughters, S. Korean chicken plentiful
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Fresh chicken deliveries to base commissaries and eateries are uninterrupted despite the South Korean government’s ordered culls to stem avian influenza, the cause of several deaths in Southeast Asia.
“There’s been no impact to our supplies,” said Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, 8th Army spokesman.
Boylan said no cases of avian flu have been detected in base-ordered chicken. Veterinary personnel continue to test chicken as well as inspect facilities owned by Moguchon, the South Korean supplier to at least three peninsula commissaries.
Base personnel do routine and surprise inspections and were scheduled for another inspection soon, Boylan said.
Yongsan, Osan and Camp Walker commissaries get monthly between 7½ to 8 tons of chicken packaged from Moguchon, according to Kim Chong-hwa of the company’s sales department.
While the company has factories in Umsong-gun in North Chungchong Province — the primary source of the outbreak in South Korea — Moguchon hasn’t slaughtered any chickens, said Lee Hyong-joo of Moguchon’s chicken processing division.
Commissaries continue to receive their normal shipments of Moguchon products, said Nancy P. O’Nell, the Defense Commissary Agency’s Pacific spokeswoman based in Sacramento, Calif.
Yongsan’s store also sells a variety of frozen poultry products from the United States, and those items have been fully stocked, she wrote in an e-mail.
Since early December, 16 South Korean farms have tested positive for avian flu, according to the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry. Farms within 1.8 miles of an avian flu case must slaughter their stocks, while farms within 6.2 miles must not move chickens out of the area to prevent exposure.
Poultry producers are feeling the pinch. Since mid-December, when the first South Korean case was reported, various poultry retailers and individual restaurants have reported anywhere between a 20 to 70 percent drop in sales, according to news reports.
Southeast Asian countries have grappled to stop the spread of the flu. The flu has been detected in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and Myanmar.
Last week, South Korea banned imports of chicken from Thailand. Tuesday, the government began destroying more than 214,000 chickens in Chonan, south of Seoul, after a new infection was detected. In all, about 2.43 million chickens and ducks have been destroyed.