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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 14:34 GMT
No signs of panic over poultry
Stephen Chittenden
BBC News

Nadim Ilyas
Nadim Ilyas fears bird flu is yet another setback to his business

Perhaps news of the bird flu outbreak has not reached everyone yet. Maybe the government's "Don't Panic" message is getting through.

Either way, Monday morning shoppers at butchers' stalls in a west London market were happily continuing with their poultry purchases.

At Kenya Halal Meat and Poultry, Nadim Ilyas had just made the day's first sale of turkey. He said he thought it was too early to tell the effects of the bird flu outbreak.

"I don't think it'll affect me yet. I think a lot of people don't know what's happening."

But he was fearful that bird flu will eventually hit his business, like other outbreaks in the recent past.

I wouldn't buy turkey unless it was reduced
Martha Tekel-Michael

"It's another setback after BSE and foot-and-mouth, now this bird flu. I am sure we will lose business. The government should do more, we have to stop the spread."

While others may worry on hearing news that bird flu is killing turkeys, for mother Martha Tekel-Michael, 28, it brought the chance of a bargain.

"I saw the news about the birds, then I came to see if the turkey was reduced. But it's not, so I won't buy it, I'm having chicken. I wouldn't buy turkey unless it was reduced."

Ms Tekel-Michael said she believes there is little or no danger in eating poultry.

"We're still eating chicken and eggs, the risk is so low. My three children like chicken so we feed it to them, we ate it last night"

Organic option

But another local mum pushing her toddler son through the market was more cautious. Louise Askins, 34, said bird flu might well affect her shopping behaviour, especially as 16-month-old Milo loves chicken.

Louise Askins and Milo
Louise Askins will make sure Milo's chicken is organic

"I've had no opportunity to shop for food yet, but it will make me think twice. I think I can distance myself from Bernard Matthews because I tend to buy organic."

But most confident in the intelligence of the poultry-buying public was Mohammed Ilyas, a butcher on the east side of the market. He said he had no fears of a slump in sales, because his buyers were fully aware of the low risk.

"Most customers are aware and not worried," he said. "Because people understand it's just a problem on the farm."

And that is where the poultry business would like it to stay.






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