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Avian Bird Flu Could Affect Supermarkets' Turkey Supplies

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- America's favorite Thanksgiving bird will sacrifice 45 million of their number for this Thanksgiving. But the loss of millions of turkeys to Avian or bird flu earlier this year has had an impact.

"Did the Avian flu take a toll?" KDKA money editor Jon Delano asked Frank Dentici of Kuhn's on Thursday.

"Oh, definitely, definitely," Dentici said. "We've seen price increases on our cost side. We have not passed that on to our customers."

Dentici handles meat products for the Kuhn's supermarket chain, and he says suppliers tell him there's plenty of turkeys for a normal Thanksgiving but warn don't advertise to sell more than usual.

"We've been told by the packers, our suppliers of the main labels out there, not to put a full advertising," he said. "They have to get the stuff ahead of time because they just don't have enough to supply it."

So don't expect a lot of special turkey deals this holiday.

In fact, most, but not all, Shop 'n Saves have discontinued their free turkey program.

While many stores in the area have discontinued their turkey specials, at the Shop 'n Save on Castle Shannon Boulevard in Mt. Lebanon, if you spend more than $500 between Oct. 11 and Nov. 14, you will get a free turkey.

Sam Hanna of Dormont says he almost qualified with his purchases.

"You're going to need a turkey anyway, so I think it's a good deal, and their prices are real good out here," Hanna said.

Frozen turkeys are no problem this holiday, but fresh turkeys, including deli meat, might get scarce.

Father John Chirovsky of the South Side bought his turkey early because he's heard of a possible shortage.

"I have heard that and my wife [has], too," Chirovsky said. "She's the one who told me to check."

But all local groceries say the same thing.

"We don't see any shortages right now," Dentici said. "We don't anticipate any shortages."

In August, local businesses were feeling the affects of the avian flu when egg shortages caused prices to rise.

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