British Christmas Dinner Is At Risk Of Being Cancelled Because Of Bird Flu

With Christmas just a month away, the timing for an outbreak in Britain couldn't be more inconvenient. Christmas around the world doesn't look the same as it does in America, especially when it comes to food on the menu. Turkey is a mainstay in both countries, but traditional British dinner differs by including roast parsnips, pigs in a blanket, red cabbage, bread sauce, Brussels sprouts, and boiled vegetables (via British Council). According to YouGov, 10% of UK residents claim chicken to be their second favorite holiday meat. Other less common Christmas proteins include beef, lamb, pork, goose, and duck.

It was only September when the United Kingdom suffered an E. coli outbreak, affecting 200 people in a month, though thankfully causing no deaths (per Food Safety News). The source of the infection was unknown, however, according to Dr. Lesley Larkin from the UK Health Security Agency, it's to be expected this time of year. Two months later, it seems that Britain can't catch a break, as the spread of a new virus is threatening traditional Christmas food.

Sainsbury's might be able to save the holiday

According to Reuters, the United Kingdom is currently in the middle of the largest avian flu outbreak to date. Farmers have been required to keep poultry and other birds indoors, as the British government deems the threat for outdoor birds "very high." Although the risk of spread to the public is low, CNBC points out that there's a high possibility Christmas won't look the same this year. Because 50 million birds have been killed in 2022, the chance of getting a turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas is uncertain.

However, the second-largest supermarket in Britain, Sainsbury's, has been working around the clock to find a solution (via Reuters). "Avian flu is a serious issue and one that we're watching very closely and we're not complacent ... our teams are all over this," chief executive Simon Roberts said. Reportedly, the company has ordered more turkeys this year than were sold last year, in hopes that the numbers will exceed the demand. "In the end ... we had plenty of turkeys for everyone last year, in fact we probably had a little more than we needed," he continued. In conclusion, don't panic quite yet if you're in the UK, as Sainsbury's may be able to save the holiday after all.