Avian flu causes worry about egg shortage


An outbreak of the avian flu in the US Midwest has prompted concerns about an impending egg shortage. Large industrial customers are developing contingency plans. Makers of products like mayonnaise, ice cream, cookies, muffins, and cake m ixes are looking to egg alternatives as a possible solution.

As of this Wednesday, the flu is forcing farmers to kill more than 33 million egg laying hens, most of them in Iowa and Minnesota. While companies ranging from Post, McDonalds, and Panera Bread scramble to find new sources and restaurants remove egg-intensive menu items, egg substitute producers like Hampton Creek are viewing this as an opportunity to find new markets. They hope their product, which is nearly half as cheap as eggs, will find a permanent home in companies that try it during the shortage.

Individual consumers across the US are also likely to be affected by the flu outbreak, mostly in the form of higher prices for eggs, chicken, and turkeys. About 10 percent of turkeys in Minnesota, the largest producer of turkeys in the US, have been destroyed due to the flu outbreak. Officials emphasize that there is no health risks for consumers. Despite these reassurances, several countries have banned US poultry, including the EU and most of Central America, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

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