Got eggs? Unless you are a prepper, the answer to that could very well be "no" in the near future. The bird flu outbreak in the Midwest has caused an egg shortage, and steep prices are expected soon nationwide. The H5N2 bird flu virus and mutated strains of the virus have now been confirmed on farms in 16 states and in Canada as well.
Farmers in the country's top egg-producing states have been hard hit by the H5N2 bird flu. Not only will eggs be in high demand and short supply, but poultry will as well.
Many “egg-dependent” food companies are considering importing eggs from foreign farmers to make up for the domestic egg shortage. The avian flu outbreak is also pushing some of the same processed food companies to look for egg alternatives for their frozen and packaged food items.
An Archer Daniels Midland Company representative said that the bird flu egg shortage has prompted prices to rise and said the food manufacturer has received a multitude of inquiries from companies concerning “plant-based egg substitutes.”
Approximately 30 percent of the eggs in the United States, including those sold by the dozen, liquid eggs, frozen eggs, and dried eggs, have disappeared from the marketplace during the bird flu outbreak. Egg prices have already risen 63 cents and the H5N2 avian flu outbreak shows no signs of slowing just yet. The price of one dozen eggs sold at a grocery store is now about $2.03 in many locations. Ice cream makers are also reportedly bracing for shortage and are working with farmers to help protect hens from the bird flu.
By early May, about 5.3 million Iowa birds were affected by the avian flu outbreak, according to USDA statistics. Iowa is just one of many Midwest states facing a possible agriculture industry disaster due to the various strains of bird flu. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin also lost millions of birds to the virus and are placing the livelihoods of farmers in jeopardy.
The birds afflicted with avian flu have been euthanized in order to protect other poultry flocks from becoming affected and increasing the negative impact on the United States poultry market. All of the farm equipment and facilities the infected birds came in contact with will reportedly be thoroughly disinfected to prevent the illness from spreading to healthy birds on farms, the USDA stated.
American Bakers Association Vice President for Government Relations, Cory Martin, said the group is pushing for the USDA to “speed up approvals” for egg imports.
“We have members whose egg suppliers are already cutting back how much they’ll receive in the next few weeks, while others are not getting any. They’re looking for eggs everywhere. And the problem is, too, there’s not enough egg substitute available right now to make up for the demand.”
The H5N2 strain swept through the Midwest infecting 7.3 million chickens and turkeys by April 2015. Bird flu, like other flu viruses, are “highly mutable” and could cause farm workers in “direct contact” with the infected birds to also become ill.
The H7N9 bird flu strain has now mutated and has reportedly spread rapidly from chicken flocks to duck flocks. Agriculture researchers reportedly feel that the H7N9 mutation poses a “bigger threat” to “humanity” than the former strain — H5N2. Recent avian flu concerns regarding chicken, duck, and turkey flocks have left some citizens with pandemic concerns.
Exactly how severe an H5N2 infection could be in a human being remains unknown. Both public health officials and federal government researchers have stated that it is unlikely that the bird flu strain could be passed from animals to people because of the genetic make-up of this particular avian flu strain.
Are you concerned about the safety of the food supply and grocery store price increase for eggs and poultry?