Walt Disney's ABC television network is planning to air a disaster thriller called 'Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America' next week but Richard Lobb of the National Chicken Council told just-food that he believes the TV movie will not have a detrimental affect on poultry sales.

For a start, Lobb told just-food, although it has a prime time slot, 'Fatal Contact' will have difficulty attracting viewers because the shows it is up against are all in the US top-ten. "It's up against the likes of 'American Idol' and 'House'. The best it can do is hope to beat NBC's bloopers," Lobb observed.

Additionally, ABC has agreed to run a disclaimer before the show is aired: "They will state clearly that the avian influenza that we are hearing so much about at the moment is not a pandemic and that it rarely spreads to humans. They will acknowledge that it is purely a work of fiction," Lobb continued.

Although the US poultry industry is facing difficult market conditions and declining sales, Lobb said that it is hoped that the US will avoid the consumer reaction seen in some continental European countries.

"Watching the reaction of Europeans to bird flu we have taken a lot of hope from the British response, which has been more muted than the reaction of consumers in places like Italy," he said. "The British Government has done well to communicate information about avian influenza to the public. In the US, we have taken a number of precautions and we too are communicating this to consumers."