Suspect chicken smuggled in from China may have been eaten

Health officials in Michigan in the U.S. are working to track down frozen Chinese poultry smuggled into the United States and found in a warehouse in Oakland County.

The chickens were smuggled in from China, a country still battling to control bird flu outbreaks.

State and Federal investigators are said to have raided the Tinsway Company in Oakland County three times in the last five weeks, confiscating over 2,000 pounds of meat and other improperly labeled food, following a tip off from a restaurant owner near Flint.

Officials apparently found no sign of the frozen chicken, duck and pigeon carcasses, some packed with entrails intact, that are suspected of being contaminated with the deadly avian influenza virus.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted the first raid but did not tell state officials for several weeks which has concerned members of the Oakland County Health Department, who are currently taking part in bio-terrorism training.

According to state officials no testing for bird flu has as yet been carried out by the federal food safety regulators who had taken the lead in an investigation that began in early June.

State officials say some of the contraband poultry was labeled as tilapia in an apparent bid to avoid an import ban, and appears to have been imported in New York or New Jersey.

They say the Michigan-based food wholesaler at the center of the probe, could face criminal or civil charges, meanwhile, the warehouse is still in business.

State inspectors are still trying to compile a complete list of the restaurants supplied by the company but they say a preliminary check shows none of the meat is going into restaurants.

Michigan's Agriculture Department says the owner of the facility has not been identified or located, but a manager has been cooperating with investigators.

State inspectors are still trying to compile a complete list of the 300 or more restaurants supplied by the company but they say a preliminary check indicates that none of the meat is turning up in restaurants.

The risk to the public is apparently low and ensuring the meat is cooked thoroughly, removes any bacteria and any bird flu contamination that might be there.

Investigators however suspect security was breached in New York or New Jersey and Michigan consumers may have already eaten some of the meat.

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