USFJ says eggs sold in commissaries are safe to eat
January 17, 2004
The Japanese eggs sold in U.S. commissaries are safe and weren’t purchased from a poultry farm hit with avian influenza, U.S. Forces Japan officials confirmed Thursday.
Japanese officials Tuesday began killing more than 17,000 chickens at the Win Win Farm in Yamaguchi Prefecture, near Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, after the National Institute of Animal Health confirmed the H5N1 flu strain was present in test samples.
The Defense Commissary Agency buys eggs from six Japanese plants but none are in Yamaguchi, USFJ stated in a news release.
Military officials continue to monitor the situation, USJF stated, but there’s no cause for concern about chicken and chicken products bought from U.S. commissaries in Japan. Neither is buying or eating chicken or eggs from off-base stores dangerous, Iwakuni medical officials said Thursday.
However, as a precaution, base officials began airing advisories on American Forces Network on Wednesday evening warning residents not to buy or eat chicken products purchased off base.
Navy Lt. Gene Garland, public health officer at the Iwakuni Branch Medical Clinic, said he conferred Thursday with Yamaguchi Prefecture Department of Animal Husbandry, Agriculture and Forestry officials.
Garland said the officials told him all the eggs from the Win Win Farm have been removed from Japanese stores.
As a precaution, he suggested, residents who may have purchased the Win Win eggs before the recall should return or destroy them.
“What’s losing out on a few yen when we know it’s better to be safe than sorry?” he said.
Garland reiterated no cases have been confirmed in Japan of people becoming sick from eating chicken or eggs from an infected chicken.
“Humans can only contract the virus by having direct contact with an infected chicken, or the relatively recent droppings from infected chickens,” he noted.
Japanese officials, who said Wednesday the eggs pose no threat, will burn the recalled eggs. They’ve also increased the number of workers gassing the chickens at the farm, estimating they’ll finish the grim task Friday.
The dead chickens will be buried on prefectural land, an official said, where workers removed grass and trees on Thursday.
Prefectural officials said they’ll continue to investigate the outbreak, which mirrored recent incidents in Vietnam, South Korea and Hong Kong.
World Health Organization officials said the H5N1 flu strain killed at least three people in Vietnam and is suspected in at least a dozen other deaths. The strain also recently hit South Korea and Hong Kong.
Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.