12/11/2014 01:17 EST | Updated 02/10/2015 05:59 EST

Avian flu outbreak won't affect Christmas turkey prices or safety, say officials

Extra turkeys are being shipped to B.C. this Christmas to make up the shortage caused by the avian flu outbreak, but officials say birds raised within the province are safe to eat.

B.C.'s Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick says people can trust their turkeys this Christmas, regardless of where they come from.

"As long as they cook their turkeys or chickens properly, and handle them properly as they would normally for Christmas, absolutely they should go out and enjoy," said Letnick on Thursday.

Yesterday the CFIA revealed the avian flu outbreak has spread to a total of seven farms and one barn in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver, meaning that a total of 155,000 birds will be killed if they have not already died from the virus.

Shortage of local supply

Ray Nickel, the president of the B.C. Poultry Association said Wednesday that affected farmers are hurting, and so is the supply for local markets.

"This is very difficult, especially over this time of year," said Nickel.

Several countries have already banned poultry exports from B.C., but Nickel said because so many turkeys are being destroyed or dying, there is still a shortage for local markets.

"It's getting tighter. We don't believe there will be a shortage. We are looking at building up some of that supply from our provincial counterparts."

Turkeys from farms in Alberta and Ontario will be brought in as needed and prices should remain stable, said Nickel.