They are birds whose meat has earned a region of France a world-wide reputation. But the celebrated chickens of Bourg-en-Bresse live just 30 kilometres from the spot where bird flu has been found. While the country has tightened measures concerning the confinement of poultry, these birds still benefit from a special dispensation allowing them outside in the afternoons until sunset.Top restaurateur Georges Blanc stressed that bird flu has not affected the Bourg-en-Bresse chickens. “So people must not stop buying poultry,” he said. “But this it what we are concerned about because the future of the industry is at stake.” Since the start of the year, consumption of chicken in France is down by 15 per cent on average, compared with the same period in 2005. The government is striving to ease consumers’ concerns, by reassuring them that it is safe to eat cooked chicken. For the moment, many are continuing to shop as they always have and the industry is hoping this attitude will prevail across the country. In the meantime, the French government has pledged millions of euros in financial help for chicken farmers.