A sign for the U.S. fast food restaurant chain McDonald’s is seen.

Yves Herman | Reuters

Australia is facing an egg supply crunch thanks to bird flu outbreaks — and it’s led McDonald’s to trim breakfast hours by 90 minutes, also pushing supermarkets to restrict purchases to two cartons per consumer.

Australia has been battling outbreaks of the Avian influenza virus in the past few months, which has resulted in about one million egg-laying hens being euthanized and affected to limit the spread of the disease, according to Murray Watt, the country’s minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

Citing “industry challenges,” McDonald’s on Tuesday announced that it was temporarily serving breakfast until 10.30am instead of midday across Australia.

“Like many retailers, we are carefully managing supply of eggs due to current industry challenges,” McDonald’s said in its Australia Facebook page, adding that the company is “working hard with our Aussie farmers and suppliers to return this back to normal as soon as possible.”

Australian retail giants Coles and Woolworths also reportedly imposed restrictions on how many cartons of eggs could be purchased in one transaction across most states.

Consumers can expect to “see some empty shelves in the short-term,” with supplies being redirected to areas with short supply, the Australian government said in its latest update, adding that there has been no impact on chicken meat supply at this time. 

The government added that it is currently responding to outbreaks of the H7 high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) at 11 poultry farms.

The impact of avian influenza in Australia is being felt across the poultry industries, Rowan McMonnies, managing director of industry group Australian Eggs said in a statement — while signaling that consumers should not be worried yet.

“Consumers can be assured there’s still over 20 million hens under the care of hundreds of egg farmers across Australia that will continue to work hard to ensure there’s eggs on shelves,” McMonnies said. 

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) noted that there is currently no evidence that people can contact the virus through “properly prepared” food.

“Avian influenza (bird flu) is not a food safety concern and it is safe to eat properly handled and cooked chicken meat, eggs and egg products,” the organization added.

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