Cyprus Mail

Army poultry supply withdrawal was not a health issue

The offending chicken came from the Netherlands

By Angelos Anastasiou

ISSUES with weight, as well as irregularities in the slaughterhouse seal, were revealed as the main reasons behind the withdrawal of a batch of poultry supplied to the army, and not ‘infected chickens imported from Turkey’ as was widely reported, Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou said yesterday.

He said he would not compromise the health and safety of soldiers and that no poultry from the batch in question had been consumed by army personnel. It was withdrawn in full while a new supplier had now been commissioned by the ministry, he said.

Imported from the Netherlands the chickens “violated important specifications,” Fotiou said, namely weight, slaughterhouse seal, and package labeling.

A source who did not wish to be named said the chickens were perfectly fit for consumption, and that there was nothing wrong with them other than the fact that the box bore a crescent-and-star symbol similar to that on the Turkish flag.

The defence ministry later confirmed that the chickens had been inspected by the Cyprus Veterinary Services and found to be suitable for consumption, but added that subsequent checks revealed that the chickens’ weight was not up to specs.

The army’s contract with the previous chicken supplier ended on December 12, and tenders have been requested from vendors for a new contract to be signed in mid-January.

A local provider was approached to supply the army with chickens on an interim basis of one month until the procedures for a new contract are completed.

Media had reported that ‘infected’ chickens had been imported from the Netherlands and bore the Turkish flag on the package, raising suspicion with regard to their true origin. The chickens were allegedly sold to the NG by a local supplier.

The packaging, besides the similarity to the Turkish flag, read ‘Halal’, Arabic for ‘permissible’, referring to certain foods or drinks and the method used in preparing them as allowed under Islamic law.

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