Families opt for frozen chickens
Families switched to cooking chilled and frozen chickens for dinner on the winter solstice amid the ban on the sale of live chickens that followed a bird flu outbreak at a local farm early this month.
Sales of frozen chickens increased by 30 to 40 per cent yesterday, said Mr Lui, a vendor in Hung Hom. But he said he 'dared not raise the prices' amid the economic downturn.
A number of customers said that although they preferred live chickens, chilled and frozen birds had become their only option for dinner.
'We Chinese people love eating chicken on the winter solstice; it is a tradition I would like to preserve,' said Siu So-ching, who said she had bought chilled chicken legs. 'Of course [freshly killed] chickens taste so much better, but now we have no choice.'
A shopper who gave her name as Ms Wong said she would use frozen chickens as an offering this year.
A live-chicken vendor, who also sells chilled birds, said the sales ban had reduced his income.
'This morning we have only sold about 160 chilled chickens,' said Mr Yu. 'If there were no ban, we could have sold 700 live chickens during the festival.'
Meanwhile, some families opted for other sources of protein. Ms Chan, a frozen-meat shopkeeper, said more customers had bought shrimp, beef and conch meat.
'Winter solstice is more important than Lunar New Year,' she said. 'On other days people don't buy these expensive meats.'
There was also a third option for Lo Man, who said he and his family went to a restaurant for their dinner.
Undersecretary for food and health Gabriel Leung said last week that the live-chicken ban might be lifted as early as December 30, as initial tests had shown the H5N1 virus found in dead chickens at a Yuen Long farm this month was not a mutation and therefore posed less risk to humans than previously feared.