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JUST IN: Production Halted At Texas Plant Of Country’s Largest Fresh Egg Producer

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Cal-Maine Foods, the largest producer and distributor of fresh shell eggs in the United States, has halted production at its Texas plant after it found bird flu in chickens.

The announcement follows reports of Texas finding its first human case of bird flu.

Texas Reports First Case Of Avian Flu In Human, Reportedly From Infected Dairy Cattle

The company also detected bird flu at its Michigan poultry facility.

"Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. today reported that one of the Company’s facilities located in Parmer County, Texas, tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (“HPAI”), resulting in depopulation of approximately 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets, or approximately 3.6% of the Company’s total flock as of March 2, 2024. Production at the facility has temporarily ceased as the Company follows the protocols prescribed by the USDA. Cal-Maine Foods is working to secure production from other facilities to minimize disruption to its customers," Cal-Maine Foods stated in a press release.

From Cal-Maine Foods:

The Company remains dedicated to robust biosecurity programs across its locations; however, no farm is immune from HPAI. HPAI is still present in the wild bird population and the extent of possible future outbreaks, with heightened risk during the migration seasons, cannot be predicted. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the human health risk to the U.S. public from HPAI viruses is considered to be low. Also, according to the USDA, HPAI cannot be transmitted through safely handled and properly cooked eggs. There is no known risk related to HPAI associated with eggs that are currently in the market and no eggs have been recalled.

The Company continues to work closely with federal, state and local government officials and focused industry groups to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks and effectively manage the response.

The APHIS division of the USDA and individual states track and publicly report individual incidents of HPAI by location. The Company will provide updated information in its next quarterly report to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and does not expect to provide interim updates unless material.

The company "sells the majority of its shell eggs in states across the southwestern, southeastern, mid-western and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States."

The Associated Press reports:

The announcement by Cal-Maine comes a day after state health officials said a person had been diagnosed with bird flu after being in contact with cows presumed to be infected, and that the risk to the public remains low.

In Michigan, Michigan State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has detected bird flu in a commercial poultry facility in Ionia County, according to the Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The county is about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.

The department said it received confirmation of the disease Monday from the lab and that it is the fourth time since 2022 that the disease was detected at a commercial facility in Michigan.

Department spokesperson Jennifer Holton said Tuesday that state law prohibits the department from disclosing the type of poultry at the facility in Ionia.

The facility has been placed under quarantine and the department does not anticipate any disruptions to supply chains across the state, Holton said.

The human case in Texas marks the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal, federal health officials said.

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