Suspected avian flu-infected Chinese poultry smuggled into U.S.

Published 14 July 2006

The United States does not allow Chinese poultry into the country for fear of avian flu; a Michigan warehouse owner who supplies Detroit’s 300 Chinese restaurants smuggled Chinese foul into the U.S., and the police are looking for him

Michigan and federal authorities are trying to track down a cache of frozen poultry smuggled into the United States from areas in China where avian flu is prevalent, state officials said two days ago. The authorities said consumers probably have eaten some of the meat and should be concerned but not alarmed. Proper cooking destroys the deadly virus. The frozen poultry, which included geese, ducks, and chickens with intestines still intact, was purchased by the owner of a warehouse in Troy, Michigan, which supplies 300 Chinese restaurants and Asian grocery stores throughout southeast Michigan, according to state authorities. The authorities said the owner has disappeared and is facing possible criminal charges.

Federal officials apparently destroyed birds seized from the warehouse 27 June before the meat could be tested, prompting Michigan officials to complain.

Although the virus, which lives in the birds’ intestines, can survive indefinitely in frozen poultry, it dies when meat is thoroughly cooked. Food preparation surfaces and utensils should be disinfected with soap or bleach and hands should be washed to prevent the spread of any virus.

Chinese-raised poultry is banned in the United States because of fear it could spread diseases.