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McDonalds Steps up Bird Flu Precautions

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The spread of bird flu has become a major cause for concern among food suppliers and restaurant chains. As a result, McDonald's is having its suppliers isolate free-range chickens in Europe. The company hopes that this measure will curb bird flu and ensure the eggs and chicken it serves in its more than 11,000 restaurants is not

tainted, reports Reuters.

"We are now imposing standards which require that those free range chickens that are producing free-range eggs be brought into houses because of the threat of the spread of avian influenza," said Catherine Adams, Vice President of Worldwide Quality at McDonald's.

The standard has been in place for 6-8 months, and is meant to protect the birds producing eggs for McDonald's uses as well as those used for poultry servings. The move is somewhat controversial in

parts of Europe because of the culture of raising free-range birds. Nonetheless, the world's largest restaurant business is exerting maximum effort to make sure its customers will still visit its restaurants in the event of a bird flu outbreak.

McDonald's is traditionally known for its burgers (billions and billions served), but chicken has become a huge source of the company's revenue. In the U.S., the company sold more chicken than beef on a dollar-per-dollar basis in 2005. The company has had its U.S. suppliers test flocks for bird flu for the past six months, which it claims is far easier than ensuring quality control abroad.

"In the U.S. we have vertical integration, the flocks are raised just for McDonald's, so we have total control over it," said Frank Muschetto, Senior V.P. and Chief Purchasing Officer.

In other countries, that is not necessarily the case. Every place where McDonalds is able to test, it tests the flocks for the influenza. But it is not always that simple. In parts of Europe, testing is administered by the government and only occurs then that particular government authorizes it.

McDonald's has actually enjoyed a good reputation for safety, as evidenced by the fact that the discovery of bird flu in China did not negatively impact sales there. In the event of a larger bird flu outbreak elsewhere, the corporation wants to be sure its reputation remains sterling.

Otherwise, customers



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