NFU fights bird flu fears over Christmas turkeys

The National Farmers’ Union is bidding to avert consumer fears of avian flu by showing where turkeys come from. The campaign, called ‘Choose Your Turkey’, will encourage British consumers to stick with the traditional Christmas fare.

'There's a fear people will stop buying turkeys because they think they are unsafe,' said NFU acting campaigns manager Andrea Cullins.

A Choose Your Turkey website will point users to local turkey producers and highlight the subtle taste differences available. The NFU will also run competitions in local press with locally produced birds as prizes.

'We are already getting  coverage because of avian flu,' said Cullins. 'We need to show turkey is safe and that it's business as usual.'
The website is scheduled to launch next week, attached to the main NFU site. It will also seek to capitalise on the heightened scrutiny
of the provenance of food, following TV programme Jamie's School Dinners.

The site is a departure from previous stunt-based Christmas campaigns that have failed to increase sales. A campaign in 2003 saw 'turkey-relaxation' CDs being sent to farmers.

Media scare stories about bird flu have increased steadily in the past few months as the disease has spread. In October, quarantined Taiwanese finches were found to have entered the UK carrying the disease.

But medical professionals have sought to reassure the public that the disease has not been shown to spread between humans, and that there have been no British cases outside quarantine.

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