PITTSBURG, Texas, May 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Pilgrim's Pride Corporation (NYSE: PPC) said routine blood tests indicate an avian influenza infection has been found in a 52-week-old commercial chicken breeder flock (which lays eggs for hatching) at a contract grower's farm in Northeast Texas west of Sulphur Springs. However, there is very little evidence of clinical signs of disease in the birds, which indicates the infection may be low- pathogenic avian influenza, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission.
The affected farm, located about six miles from the nearest commercial poultry farm, has been isolated and the flock has been destroyed on-site to prevent the potential spread of the disease, said O.B. Goolsby, president and chief operating officer of Pilgrim's Pride Corporation. "The flock has been destroyed humanely under the guidance of state veterinary officials," he said.
Goolsby said the virus was discovered as part of voluntary testing procedures in cooperation with Texas Poultry Federation and State of Texas authorities. "Our poultry testing in Texas is believed to be the most aggressive in the nation, with every breeder flock tested every 10 weeks," Goolsby said. "As a result of this diligence, we believe that the virus can be contained, particularly since this flock is so far from any other poultry farms. Accordingly, we believe this development will not have a material impact on net income."
After extensive testing by both state and federal officials -- including the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa -- the viral disease is believed to be the H7N3 subtype of avian influenza.
Due to incidences of avian influenza earlier this year in Gonzales, Texas, and in the Northeastern United States, Pilgrim's Pride had heightened its already rigorous biosecurity efforts to minimize potential risks to its commercial flocks, Goolsby said.
Pilgrim's Pride said the affected farm is in Hopkins County and is made up of two poultry houses with only 12,000 chickens each. The company said the farm represents less than 1/100th of one percent (.00009) of the total chicken flock owned by Pilgrim's Pride.
The company said there is no need for consumers to be concerned, as its stringent USDA inspection standards ensure that consumers will continue to receive the highest-quality, safest poultry products in the marketplace.
Pilgrim's Pride is the second largest poultry producer in the United States and Mexico, and the largest such firm in Puerto Rico.
Statements contained in this press release that state the intentions, hopes, beliefs, anticipations, expectations or predictions of the future of Pilgrim's Pride Corporation and its management are forward-looking statements. It is important to note that the actual results could differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in such forward- looking statements include: additional outbreaks of avian influenza or other diseases affecting the production performance and/or marketability of the company's poultry products; matters affecting the poultry industry generally, including fluctuations in the commodity prices of feed ingredients, chicken and turkey; contamination of our products, which has recently and can in the future lead to product liability claims and product recalls; exposure to risks related to product liability, product recalls, property damage and injuries to persons, for which insurance coverage is expensive, limited and potentially inadequate; management of our cash resources, particularly in light of our substantial leverage; restrictions imposed by and as a result of, our substantial leverage; currency exchange rate fluctuations, trade barriers, exchange controls, expropriation and other risks associated with foreign operations; changes in laws or regulations affecting our operations as well as competitive factors and pricing pressures; inability to effectively integrate ConAgra's chicken business or realize the associated cost savings and operating synergies currently anticipated; inability to recognize the anticipated cost savings and anticipated benefits in connection with our turkey division restructuring; and the impact of uncertainties of litigation as well as other risks described under "Risk Factors" in our Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
SOURCE Pilgrim's Pride Corporation