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Were Millions of Turkeys Recalled in 2014 Because of an Avian Flu Outbreak?

Claim

Millions of turkeys were recalled in 2014 after the CDC confirmed that the birds were carrying the avian flu virus.

Rating

Not True

Reporting

A “satire” blog’s attempt at a Thanksgiving post in November 2014 is no less fabricated today, but real life did end up resembling this form of “art” years later.

The National Report’s post (which is no longer accessible on its website) stated:

Researchers at the National Turkey Producers Association have determined an at-home diagnostic [should be used] for determining if your turkey is safe to eat. Following cooking by any method, infected turkeys will develop green colorations across the wings and thighs. This is due to a chemical produced by the virus.

There is no such group as a “National Turkey Producers Association.” The blog does have a disclaimer stating:

National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental. Advice given is NOT to be construed as professional. If you are in need of professional help, please consult a professional. National Report is not intended for children under the age of 18.

However, according to Real or Satire — a site tracking sites that, intentionally or not, skirt the difference between actual news and made-up “content” — that disclaimer is itself a change in tone from the one it used prior to pushing the “avian flu” post:

In order to be in compliance with the Federal Communications Act and The Barack H. Obama Administrational Oversight Panel On Media Matters, The National Report officially states its purpose as an online portal for general news and commentary from its staff, citizen journalists and other sources, and may include unconfirmed or satirical material.

No information on this site is intended as, or shall be construed as legal, financial, medical or expert advice of any kind. National Report is not responsible for typographical errors, editing errors, or news source errors.

In reality there never was any sort of “administrational oversight panel on media” during Obama’s administration.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that most cases involving transmission of avian or swine flu to humans involve “direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments,” adding that these diseases “have not acquired the ability of sustained transmission among humans.”

It is possible that the blog’s post was inspired by an actual avian flu outbreak in Germany in 2014 that reportedly affected 5,000 turkeys.

A separate outbreak in the U.S. which killed more than 3.3 million turkeys and 21 million birds in 2015 prompted fears of a Thanksgiving shortage that year. However Keith Williams, then-president of the actual National Turkey Federation, reassured shoppers that the matter was in hand.

“Frozen turkeys were produced and placed in cold storage — flash frozen quality in March, before avian influenza in late April and May,” Williams told The Guardian. “The last case of avian influenza was in June. Frozen supplies continued to build throughout that time, because only a few states of the upper midwest were affected and the remaining large producing states continued to produce daily supplies and add to cold storage.”

Update 11/12/2021, 1:03pm PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here.