Avian Influenza Outbreak Shuts Down Leading US Egg Producer in Texas

RIDGELAND, MS – The largest producer of fresh eggs in the United States halted production at a Texas plant due to an outbreak of bird flu among chickens. Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. stated that a significant portion of its flock, including laying hens and pullets, had to be destroyed in response to the infection in Parmer County, Texas.

Commissioner Sid Miller of the Texas Department of Agriculture expressed concern over the devastating impact of the outbreak on Cal-Maine and the surrounding Panhandle region. He emphasized the urgent need for all producers to implement strict biosecurity measures in light of the virus’s rapid spread.

Located near the Texas-New Mexico border in the Texas Panhandle, the affected plant is situated approximately 85 miles southwest of Amarillo. Despite the setback, Cal-Maine is actively collaborating with government entities and industry groups to prevent future outbreaks and maintain operational continuity by sourcing production from other facilities.

Assurances were provided that there is no current bird flu risk associated with eggs on the market, and no recalls have been issued. Both Cal-Maine and Commissioner Miller reassured the public that the risk to consumers is minimal. Eggs that are handled and cooked properly remain safe for consumption, as confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Recent reports of a person contracting bird flu after contact with infected cows have raised concerns about the potential spread of the virus. The case represents the first documented instance globally of this strain of bird flu being transmitted from a mammal to a human. Meanwhile, dairy cows in Texas, Kansas, and Michigan have also been affected by the outbreak, demonstrating the widespread impact of the disease.

Cal-Maine primarily distributes its eggs in various regions across the United States, including the Southwest, Southeast, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic. The company’s efforts to contain the outbreak and maintain its supply chain reflect the broader challenges faced by the poultry industry in mitigating the risks associated with avian influenza. Industry and government collaboration will be critical in monitoring and addressing future developments related to the outbreak.