Taipei, Jan. 14 (CNA) Only 9 percent of Taiwan's free-range chickens are processed by licensed slaughterhouses, while the remaining 90 percent are illegally slaughtered and sold in traditional markets, according to the findings of a survey made public Wednesday.
A vast majority of the free-range chickens sold in traditional markets in Taiwan's seven primary cities and counties are obtained from five major illegal poultry markets scattered throughout the Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung areas, the survey conducted by the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) found.
The survey found that the five major unlicensed poultry markets supply free-range chickens to some 11.85 million people -- 51 percent of Taiwan's population.
Taiwanese consume over 130 million free-range chickens each year, only 9 percent of which are handled by licensed slaughterhouses, according to the survey. The other 91 percent are illegally butchered by unlicensed slaughterhouses, including the 16 percent slaughtered by vendors at traditional markets, the poll found.
EAST Director Chen Yu-min said almost all legally processed free-range chickens are distributed to supermarkets and hypermarkets, and she suggested that consumers of chicken meat buy only products that have been certified by government health authorities, in order to reduce the possibility of contracting bird flu.
That traditional markets where vendors sell chickens butchered on the spot could be hotbeds for bird flu viruses, Chen warned.
She urged the government to get rid of illegal slaughterhouses and put in place modern facilities and distribution channels to rectify the issue.
(By Flor Wang)