A famous Guangzhou chicken dish may disappear from menus as chefs have said they will no longer cook the traditional meal if they can't purchase live chickens.
The two major downtown districts in Guangzhou - Yuexiu and Liwan - and the mega university town in Panyu district have been selected as pilot areas to require that only frozen poultry be sold at local markets and bazaars starting May 5.
The move aims to prevent people from being infected with bird flu, according to the Guangzhou Administration of Food Safety.
However, the boss of Shengji Lubian Chicken Restaurant said the original flavor and texture of baiqieji (boiled sliced chicken) will be spoiled if frozen chickens are used.
For more than 38 years, the restaurant's chefs have visited chicken farms every day to purchase live chickens, said the boss, who only gave his surname, Lu. "We will not use frozen chickens to cook the restaurant's dish of baiqieji and destroy the restaurant's brand."
According to the food safety administration, all poultry in the three districts will be slaughtered at appointed slaughterhouses and frozen before going to markets.
The centralized slaughter of poultry will be implemented over the entire city in October.
He Jianfeng, chief expert at Guangdong's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the centralized system will reduce the number of people who have contact with live poultry and will help lower the risk of being infected with bird flu.
"Many business owners mix their poultry, including chickens, ducks, geese, quails and doves in the coops in markets," he said, which raises the risk of infection.
"Banning live poultry in local markets is of great significance in preventing bird flu from spreading, which has a high annual incidence of flu in winter and spring," he added.
According to a recent survey, as much as 53 per cent of Guangzhou residents think banning live poultry in local markets would help improve sanitary conditions in markets and prevent bird flu from spreading. Thirty-eight per cent opposed the ban.
More than 66 per cent, however, think the original flavor and texture of the dishes will be spoiled when cooked with frozen chickens.
Li Tianzhuo, deputy general manager of Guangzhou Banxi Restaurant, said sales of chicken dishes will witness a drastic decline after live chickens are banned.