What's new ? - 2008

What's new ? - 2008

EU ministers reject lifting ban on US poultry

EU 19 December, 2008 EU farm ministers overwhelmingly rejected a proposal on Thursday (18/12) to lift Europe's 11-year ban on U.S. poultry imports, despite strict conditions designed to ensure consumer safety.
The dispute over chlorine-washed chickens has soured the European Union's relations with the United States, its largest trading partner, since the EU embargo was imposed in April 1997. Read More

World's biggest poultry processor files for bankruptcy

Pilgrims Pride 3 December, 2008 The world's largest poultry processor has filed for bankruptcy protection as it seeks to restructure a business expected to report a fourth-quarter loss of $800m.
The company is now attempting to negotiate a $450m loan to continue operating, with 48,000 workers at 35 chicken processing plants in the US and Mexico. Pilgrims Pride has the capacity to process more than 45 million birds a week from its 35 chicken processing plants in the US and Mexico. Read More

Avian Influenza: Draft Interagency Risk Assessment for the Public Health

Risk Assessment 3 December, 2008 The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) developed a quantitative risk assessment for the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus(es) (HPAIV) in food in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The risk assessment was developed by an Interagency Workgroup formed from representatives of each of these three agencies. The purpose of this risk assessment was to 1) estimate the exposure and potential human illness from consumption of HPAIV-contaminated poultry, shell eggs, and egg products from the index flock, and 2) examine the effectiveness of mitigation strategies to control HPAIV if detected in the United States. Read More

King Pharmaceuticals to Acquire Alpharma for Approximately $1.6 Billion

Acquisition 27 November, 2008 King Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Alpharma Inc. today announced that the two companies have signed a definitive merger agreement under which King will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Alpharma for $37.00 per share in cash for a total equity value of approximately $1.6 billion. The Boards of Directors of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction.
King noted that Alpharma’s Animal Health division will increase the diversification of King’s business.
King currently anticipates that the transaction will be completed by the end of 2008. Read More

The 6th International Ministerial conference on Avian & Pandemic Influenza

International conference 21 November, 2008 Approximately 530 Government Ministers and senior officials (representing more than 120 countries and 26 International and Regional Organizations), representatives of international and regional organizations, non-governmental groups and private entities, and researchers,
participated in the 6th International Ministerial Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza in Sharm el Sheikh, hosted by the Government of Egypt on 25-26 October 2008.
The USA, Japan and Norway pledged more than US $350 million: the cumulative total of international assistance pledged since January 2006 has now reached US $3.060 billion. Read More

Consultation on the Codes of Practice for the Control of Salmonella in Animal Feeds

13 November, 2008 Defra has launched a consultation on revised codes of practice for the control and monitoring of salmonella in animal feeds.
The purpose is to enable and implement a programme which meets government obligations to public health and European Union law, whilst taking into account the business needs of feed and livestock industries. Read More

MEP raises concerns over EU poultry meat imports from China

24 October, 2008 Member of the European Parliament, Jim Allister has expressed concerns over the rigour of health checks carried out prior to the lifting of an import ban on poultrymeat from China.
Imports of poultrymeat from China to the EU were banned in 2002 because of avian influenza. However, in July 2008, the EU agreed to re-admit treat-heated poultrymeat from Shandong Province, on the basis that it now met EU health and welfare standards.
Against this background, Mr Allister has been pressing Commission vice-president Siim Kallas as to just how rigorous the EU had been in allowing itself to be persuaded to re-start imports from China. Read More

Ukraine: Meat production up

Ukraine 23 October, 2008 There was a 10.9 per cent increase in total meat produced in September compared to the previous month.
According to the last data of official statistics reported by MeatRussia, production volume of meat (including by-products of the first grade) totaled to 78.7 thousand tons in Ukraine in September, i.e. up 10.9%, to compare with the previous month.
Beef production amounted to 13,500 tons (+23.4% in comparison to August 2008), pork production was 10,700 tons (+8.5%), poultry production amounted to 53,200 tons (+8.4%), and production of top-grade by-products reached the rate of 1,100 tons (18.6%). Read More

Israel: Teva sells veterinary lines (Abic)

Teva - Abic 17 October, 2008 Israeli pharmaceutical firm Teva has announced it is to sell its veterinary business unit to Phibro Animal Health Corporation.
The company said it has entered into a definitive agreement with Phibo Animal Health Corporation, which has agreed to acquire the business in a deal worth approximately $47 million. Teva expects the transaction to be completed in the first quarter of next year.
The veterinary business, which markets veterinary products for farm animals both in Israel and internationally, currently has one manufacturing facility in Israel - Abic. Read More

EU-27 annual report

Gain report - USDA Foreign Agricultural Service 29 September, 2008 Despite higher retail prices, 2008 EU-27 broiler production is expected to increase; however, production may slow somewhat in 2009. EU-27 turkey production will continue a downward trend. The EU-27 broiler trade deficit is expected to grow in 2008 and 2009 as a result of rising imports from Brazil and Thailand and declining exports to the Middle East despite increased EU restitutions. US poultry exports to the EU remain blocked by a ban on Pathogen Reduction Treatments. Read More

Tyson to buy three Brazilian poultry companies

Tyson 19 September, 2008 Tyson Foods Inc, the largest U.S. meat producer, said that it planned to buy three Brazilian poultry companies (around $200 million). Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson said it would acquire Macedo Agroindustrial and Avicola Itaiopolis (Avita), both in Santa Catarina, and a 70 percent stake in Frangobras in Parana.
Tyson plans to double Macedo's production, to 176,000 chickens a day, and up production at the other acquired plants to 320,000.
Read More

USA: Country of origin labeling

USA 19 September, 2008 Starting Sept. 30, food manufacturers and retailers to notify their customers of the country of origin of covered commodities to comply with a new federal law (7 CFR part 65) that requires "Country of Origin Labeling" on beef, pork, chicken, goat and lamb.
Requirements do not apply to covered commodities produced or packaged before September 30, 2008. Read More

Avian Immunology: New book

New Book 8 September, 2008 Contents: The importance of the avian immune system and its unique features Structure of the avian lymphoid system Development of the avian immune system B cells, the bursa of Fabricius and the generation of antibody reperotires Avian T cells: antigen recognition and lineage Structure and evolution of avian immunoglobulins Avian innate immune responses The avian MHC Avian antigen presenting cells Avian cytokines and chemokines Immunogenetics and mapping immunological functions The avian mucosal immune system The avian enteric immune system in health and disease The avian respiratory immune system The avian reproductive immune system Avian immunosuppressive diseases and immune evasion Factors modulating the avian immune system Autoimmune diseases of poultry Tumours of the avian immune system Practical aspects of poultry vaccination and Comparative immunology of agricultural birds Ecoimmunology. Read More

Mexico halts beef, poultry shipments to U.S.

Mexico - USA 6 September, 2008 The government of Mexico has voluntarily suspended shipments of meat and processed poultry to the United States after U.S. officials raised concerns about the quality of Mexican food processing and inspections.
The department's Food Safety and Inspection Service identified systemic problems with sanitation controls and recordkeeping during an annual audit that took place in Mexico between June 24 and July 31. Read More

Teva sells its veterinary subsidiary Abic

Teva 5 September, 2008 Teva Pharmaceuticals is in advanced negotiations to sell its veterinary subsidiary, ABIC, to the U.S. Phibro Animal Health Corporation. In January Teva announced it was getting out of the non-human pharma business, as part of its five-year strategic plan. Read More

Chinese poultry meat makes comeback in European Union

China -EU 2 September, 2008 The European Commission (EC) has released a list of nine Chinese companies, all in the eastern Shandong Province, that were approved to export heat-treated poultry meat products to the EU.
The official estimated that China's annual exports of heat-treated poultry products to the EU could reach 100,000 tons worth US$1 billion. The reopening to Shandong companies is seen as a sign that Chinese companies will have greater market access in the future.
Read More

Russia bans poultry imports from 19 U.S. firms

Russia - USA 29 August, 2008 From September 1, Russia will reportedly ban poultry imports from 19 American producers, with the fate of another 29 plants hanging in the balance. The official reason for the ban is food health and safety concerns, after Russia claimed that tests found the chickens were stuffed with antibiotics and arsenic.
Russia is an important market for many poultry producers, including the nation's largest chicken producer, Pilgrim's Pride Inc., as well as Sanderson Farms Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat company. Russia makes up 33 percent of total U.S. chicken exports, making it the largest customer. In the first half of the year, U.S. producers shipped $395.7 million worth of broilers to Russia. That was up 42 percent from the previous year, while volume grew 20 percent. Read More

Brazil: Large poultry trade deal with India

Brazil 2 August, 2008 Brazil announced a deal to export unprocessed poultry to India, potentially reaching 300,000 tonnes in the first year, the Brazilian Association of Chicken Producers and Exporters (ABEF) said.
The deal could make India the biggest buyer of Brazilian chicken, surpassing Russia, which purchased 194,000 tonnes of the meat from the Latin American nation last year.
"If this meant exporting 300,000 tonnes, that would mean 10 percent of what we export worldwide," Francisco Turra, ABEF's president said. Read More

New Book: Diseases of Poultry

New Book 1 August, 2008 Now in its 12th Edition, Diseases of Poultry continues its tradition of excellence as the definitive reference of poultry disease. Following the same user-friendly format, the book has been thoroughly updated to reflect the most current knowledge of avian pathology, including new coverage of genetic resistance to disease. Read More

Tyson Foods' profit falls 92% on feed costs

Tyson 29 July, 2008 Tyson Foods Inc, the leading meat producer in the United States, said on Monday its quarterly profit fell 92 percent because of the price of poultry feed, and warned that rising grain costs could lead to more losses in its chicken unit.
The chicken unit had a $44 million loss in the fiscal third quarter, compared to a $95 million profit a year ago, as prices for corn and soybeans skyrocketed. Tyson said it paid $140 million more for grain during the quarter to feed its chickens compared to a year ago, and that it expected grain costs to be up $550 million this fiscal year. Read More

US Poultry Ban: No End before September

Trade 14 July, 2008 The European Commission has not been able to reach agreement on its own proposal to lift the EU's embargo on US poultry imports.
Officials say that the ending of the ban will be delayed until at least September.
The dispute over chickens washed in chlorine has soured relations between the European Union and its largest trading partner, the United States.
It is normal practice for poultry carcasses to receive a low-concentration chlorine wash in the the US to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens. This practice is not permitted in the EU and as a result, a ban on imports of US poultry meat into the EU has been in place since 1997. Read More

French poultry company Doux closed 3 sites

France 14 July, 2008 Facing major losses, Europe's largest poultry processor Doux (€1.517 billion turnover in 2007) is to close three of its French sites, with the loss of more than 640 jobs. The group posted a 2007 loss of more than EUR35m (US$55.3m), despite a 17% lift in sales to EUR1.5bn.
The closures of its turkey plant at Locmine and chicken site at Chatelet, as well as a decision to stop duck slaughtering at its Pleucadeuc abattoir, were announced at a group staff committee meeting. Read More

AVMA Testifies on Antimicrobial Resistance Before Senate Committee

4 July, 2008 Scientific data does not support a ban on the preventative use of antibiotics in food animals, according to The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) testified on June 24, 2008 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, addressing the preventative use of antimicrobials in food animals and reiterating the necessity of antibiotic use in livestock for ensuring food safety. Read More

The Economic Organization of U.S. Broiler Production

USA 30 June, 2008 Broiler production in the United States is coordinated almost entirely through systems of production contracts, in which a grower’s compensation is based, in part, on how the grower’s performance compares with that of other growers. The industry is undergoing a gradual structural change as production shifts to larger broiler enterprises that provide larger shares of an operator’s household income. Larger enterprises require substantially larger investments in broiler housing, and new or retrofitted houses are also an important source of productivity growth in the industry. This report, based on a large and representative survey of broiler operations, describes the industry’s organization, housing features, contract design, fees and enterprise cost structures, and farm and household finances. Read More

Commission refers Italy to the ECJ

27 June, 2008 The European Commission referred Italy to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failure to comply with EU legislation on the labelling of foodstuffs and on marketing standards for poultry meat. The Court referral follows the letter of formal notice sent in October 2006 and a reasoned opinion sent in July 2007. The referral to the ECJ is the next step in the infringement procedure. Under an Order adopted in August 2005, last amended in December 2007, Italian producers and the first recipients of poultry meat are obliged to indicate the Member State of origin of the meat for poultry meat coming from other Member States and third countries. This measure contravenes EU rules on food labelling and the marketing of poultry. It could cause market discrimination and hamper the Internal Market and trade. Read More

EU Parliament opposes sale of chlorinated chicken in EU

19 June, 2008 The European parliament attacked Thursday plans by the European Commission to lift an import ban on US poultry washed in chlorine, which has attracted fierce opposition from member states, consumers and farmers.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are calling on the Council to reject the Commission's proposal to authorise four antimicrobial treatments for poultry carcasses for human consumption. Imports of such poultry meat might undermine European standards. Read More

EFSA: Scientific opinion- Animal health and welfare aspects of avian influenza

EFSA - Avian Influenza 11 June, 2008 Following a request from the Commission, the AHAW panel was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the animal health and welfare aspects of Avian Influenza and the risk of its introduction into the EU poultry holdings.
New findings on AIV characteristics
Phylogenetic analyses of strains from EU Member States indicated that all H5N1 viruses detected in the EU in poultry and wild birds since 2006 were closely related and belong to clade 2.2 and 2.3. The use of phylogeny can advise on the source of infection, but it is not possible in all circumstances to be definitive about the likely source of an introduction.
Pathogenesis and transmission
Concerning the pathogenesis and the transmission of AIV, the main conclusions were that although fecal-oral infection chains govern the transmission of AIV, accumulating evidence indicates that H5N1 virus may be excreted at higher concentrations from the respiratory tract of birds as compared to LPAI viruses.
Several domestic animals, includi Read More

Egypt: Avian influenza a recent government poll

9 June, 2008 A recent government poll reveals, over a quarter of Egyptians who are aware of the dangers of avian influenza continue to raise birds at home despite warnings that this could spread the deadly disease.
With 50 confirmed cases of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in humans since the disease first appeared in early 2006 in the most populous Arab country, Egypt has been the worst-hit nation outside of Asia. Of those infected in Egypt, 22 have died. Read More

Indonesia to stop announcing avian influenza deaths

Indonesia 6 June, 2008 Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari was cited as refusing to say how many Indonesians had died of avian influenza and insisted it was no longer necessary to announce the toll on a case-by-case basis.
Publicly announcing the toll every time a victim dies brings no benefit at all to efforts to contain the virus, she said, without confirming a media report that a 15-year-old girl had become Indonesia's 109th avian influenza victim. Read More

European Commission proposes rules change to lift ban on U.S. chicken

European Commission 28 May, 2008 The European Commission recommended lifting a longstanding ban on U.S. poultry imports.
The ban, in place since April 1997 because U.S. poultry producers use a low-concentration chlorine wash on chickens, a practice not permitted in EU countries, has blighted transatlantic trade ties for years. Read More

Chicago lifts ban on foie gras

Foie gras 16 May, 2008 The city council of Chicago has overturned a ban on foie gras, less than two years after it was imposed.
The aldermen voted 37-6 to drop the ban on restaurants serving foie gras, an ordinance that had passed with a single dissenting vote in April 2006.
Foie gras is made from the livers of force-fed ducks and geese. Read More

Europe: Ban on U.S. Chicken Imports Might End

Europe Ban on U.S. Chicken 15 May, 2008 European Commission will recommend that member countries lift an 11-year ban on U.S. poultry imports.
EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said a new scientific report "does not provide a basis" for continuing the ban.
the European Commission promised to put forward a formal proposal to lift the embargo. The ban was imposed in 1997 because of the common practice in the United States of cleaning chicken carcasses with a chlorine wash. Read More

Poultry Breeding Companies Join Forces on Genomics Program

Avian Genetics 12 May, 2008 The poultry breeding companies Aviagen, Hy-Line International and Lohmann Tierzucht have committed to a combined initiative to evaluate and implement a new genetic technology - Genome Wide Selection - in their respective breeding programs.
The companies will use the collective experience they have gained over the past decade from their individual genomics investments and sponsor a major new research initiative to advance this breeding technology.
Read More

The role of food in human exposure to antimicrobial resistant bacteria

17 April, 2008 The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says that the growing use of antimicrobial agents in food could be damaging human resistance to bacteria and other microbes.
In a report published by EFSA's panel on biological hazards (Biohaz), the agency suggests that the use of antimicrobial agents in animals plants and food production contributes to a growing, diverse range of resistant bacteria and of bacteria-borne resistant genes that can be passed on to humans through food.
Antimicrobial resistance of bacteria is a growing concern as antimicrobials become less effective in fighting human infections. This coincides with a rise in bacterial resistance to antimicrobials in animal populations. Resistant Salmonella and Campylobacter involved in human disease are mostly spread through food. The principal foods carrying such antimicrobial resistant bacteria are poultry meat, eggs, pork or beef. Read More

The Aviagen Group Announces the Formation of Aviagen Turkeys

16 April, 2008 The Aviagen Group turkey breeding companies, Nicholas Turkey Breeding Farms (Nicholas) and British United Turkeys (B.U.T.) have been operating as separate companies since the acquisition of B.U.T. in September 2005.
From April 16th both companies will operate as one company, Aviagen Turkeys. Read More

Canada: Possible link between flu drugs, deaths and hallucinations

9 April, 2008 Health officials in Canada are investigating whether Relenza (Zanamivir), can be linked to fatal reactions or abnormal behaviour in children.
The investigation is a response to recently updated safety warnings issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Relenza. In March, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline updated Relenza's safety labels after children in Japan were reported to suffer from delirium, hallucinations. Some died after injuring themselves.
A similar warning was issued by the FDA for Tamiflu (Oseltamivir).
According to Health Canada's adverse reaction database, 27 people have reported adverse reactions to Relenza, including one adult who died. One 14-year-old reported nightmares and another six-year-old temporarily lost consciousness.
Another 96 people reported adverse reactions to Tamiflu, including 11 adults who died and nine who reported psychiatric problems. Read More

EFSA opinion on four substances used to decontaminate poultry carcasses

EFSA 2 April, 2008 EFSA has carried out an assessment on whether there is any increased bacterial tolerance and resistance to antibiotics from the use of four antimicrobial substances used to decontaminate poultry carcasses.
The EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) concluded that, despite a long history of use, no published data exist to indicate that the four substances, within the proposed conditions of use, will lead to increased bacterial tolerance to these substances or to increased resistance to therapeutic antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents. Read More

Taiwan: Ban on slaughter of live poultry at traditional markets

Taiwan 28 March, 2008 A ban on poultry slaughter in traditional markets will take effect April 1.
Despite protests by poultry vendors who fear that the ban will affect their livelihood, the policy will go into effect April 1, and all chicken, geese and ducks should then be slaughtered at licensed abattoirs.
But as some complementary measures have yet to be completed, the government will postpone enforcement, originally scheduled for October 1, to between three months to six months later. Read More

FSIS Begins Posting Salmonella Performance Results for Establishments

FSIS- Salmonella 28 March, 2008 FSIS begins publishing results of completed sample sets from its Salmonella Verification Program for young chicken (broiler) slaughter establishments by their performance category on March 28. The Agency intends to post updated results on or about the 15th of each month for young chicken slaughter establishments. This will include data collected through the end of the previous month.
At this time, results are being published for establishments in Category 2 and Category 3. FSIS is not listing establishments in Category 1 and other establishments that do not have enough sets completed as required for Category 1. The Agency is looking at establishing a category for these establishments in the future and is also considering publishing category results for establishments in other product classes. Read More

Chickens not behind H5N1 outbreaks in Asia

Research 26 March, 2008 High concentrations of ducks, rice fields, and human populations—rather than chickens—pose the highest risk of sparking deadly H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks in Southeast Asia, according to a recent study.
"Mapping H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza risk in Southeast Asia" was recently published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. In the report researchers affiliated with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) collected data from three waves of hundreds of avian flu outbreaks in Vietnam and Thailand in 2004 and 2005, and then used statistical modeling to determine what factors most contributed to infection and spread of the disease. Read More

EU Industry Chief Urges End To U.S. Poultry Import Ban

The European Union - USA 25 March, 2008 The European Union is being urged by its industry commissioner to end its import ban on U.S. poultry.
The EU in 1997 prohibited the importation of product treated with chlorinated water, saying that chlorine used in this capacity posed a human health risk. The European Food Safety Authority is expected to release a report on the matter in the coming weeks. Read More

F.S.I.S. issues Salmonella notice

USA 18 March, 2008 Questions and Answers Related to Raw Meat and Poultry Product Performance Standards for Salmonella Sampling and Reporting has been issued by the Food Safety and Inspection Service, relays the American Meat Institute.
This notice responds to questions about the responsibilities of inspection program personnel and district offices regarding the following: reporting of Salmonella performance standard (P.R./H.A.C.C.P.) sampling results, issuance on an "End of Set" letter, and scheduling Salmonella performance standard (P.R./H.A.C.C.P.) sampling after a failed sample set. Read More

Avian, human flu coinfection reported in Indonesian teen

Indonesia 17 March, 2008 In a paper presented today at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vivi Setiawaty of Indonesia's Center for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research and Development described the case of simultaneous infection with seasonal and avian strains of influenza, of a 16-year-old girl who was tested for flu in Jakarta in April 2007 under a flu-surveillance system established in 2005 by the Indonesian Ministry of Health. Read More

USDA to Publicize Salmonella Poultry Plants

12 February, 2008 Starting Mar 28, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will publish online the names and test results for plants where more than 10% of product samples are found to have Salmonella contamination. That step will focus first on broiler chicken slaughterhouse establishments, since there has been an increase in percent positive rates and serotypes of human health concern found in these products. Read More

Avian Influenza, new book by Dr. David Swayne

Book 24 January, 2008 Leading experts are drawn together to provide an international and multi-disciplinary perspective.
The book provides a comprehensive guide covering the full spectrum of this complex and increasingly high-profile disease, its history and its treatment and control.
Dr. David Swayne is the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory Center Director - US Department of Agriculture. Read More

India: Broiler, egg prices decline 30% on avian influenza outbreak

India 19 January, 2008 Broiler chicken and egg prices have crashed by 25-30 per cent in various parts of the country following the confirmation of avian influenza in West Bengal. Currently, Dubai was the only country to have banned import of Indian poultry produce. Other Gulf countries can follow this ban very soon. Read More

Israel: Teva to explore strategic alternatives for animal-health unit

Teva Pharmaceuticals 15 January, 2008 Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said it is exploring strategic alternatives for its animal health business, including a possible divestiture. The Israel-based drug manufacturing company said the decision follows the strategic review it conducted in 2007.
Teva retained Bear Stearns & Co. as its financial adviser to assist in exploring alternatives for the animal health business, which develops proprietary and generic animal health products, mainly in the U.S. and Israel. Read More

Israel: Teva wants out of veterinary business

Israel 10 January, 2008 The company is seeking a buyer for Abic and Ivax's veterinary drug unit.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. has decided that the veterinary medicine business is not a strategic business. The company has therefore decided to seek a buyer for its veterinary arm, Abic Biological Laboratories Teva Ltd., as well as the veterinary business of Ivax Corp., acquired in 2006. Sources estimate that a deal would be worth tens of millions of dollars (Globes). Read More

Animal Welfare: Commission report confirms the potential benefits of banning conventional battery cages for laying hens

8 January, 2008 There is substantial evidence that banning the use of conventional battery cages for laying hens could considerably improve the health and welfare of these birds, according to a report published by the European Commission.
An EU ban on conventional battery cages is due to enter into force from 2012, in line with Directive 1999/74/EC on minimum standards for laying hens, and the report concludes that the 2012 deadline should be maintained. Today's report details a number of independent scientific and socio-economic studies which lend support to this measure by outlining the clear benefits of changing to so-called 'enriched' cages or alternative (free range or barn) rearing systems for laying hens. Read More

Glycan topology determines human adaptation of avian H5N1 virus hemagglutinin

7 January, 2008 A switch in specificity of avian influenza A viruses' hemagglutinin (HA) from avian-like (alpha 2-3 sialylated glycans) to human-like (alpha 2-6 sialylated glycans) receptors is believed to be associated with their adaptation to infect humans. This paper in the Jan. 6 issue of Nature Biotechnology, shows that a characteristic structural topology—and not the alpha 2-6 linkage itself—enables specific binding of HA to alpha 2-6 sialylated glycans and that recognition of this topology may be critical for adaptation of HA to bind glycans in the upper respiratory tract of humans. Read More