Tips to safely consume poultry during bird flu

Bird flu hits certain parts of India every year in winters through the migratory birds. It is mostly transmitted in forests through wild birds, and for even the smallest outbreaks government uses globally recognised biosecurity guidelines and compartmentalisation methods to prevent the spread.

The rising concern regarding the cases of unusual poultry death in Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh has led to avian influenza, aka bird flu warning the central government. The H5N1 virus has been found in some samples of these dead birds.

According to WHO, this virus is highly infectious and can cause severe respiratory diseases in birds. The news of bird flu has led to a drop in demand for chicken and eggs due to the rising concern of virus infecting humans consuming the affected birds and its products.

In response, WHO has given some guidelines in which it states that it is entirely safe to consume poultry and its products as long as it’s properly cooked and prepared using standard hygienic practices.

Here are some tips which can help you consume poultry safely during bird flu :

  1. Do not eat raw poultry: For the time being, make sure you don’t consume any raw bird or any part including blood, eggs, or other products from the areas with a bird flu outbreak.
  2. Keep raw and cooked meat separate: Keeping raw meat and cooked food separate will prevent possible cross-contamination of the virus. Make sure you don’t use the same chopping board, knife, and other utensils.
  3. Don’t handle raw and cooked meat together: Don’t place raw and cooked food in the same plate and or surfaces, don’t use raw or soft-boiled eggs in foods which are not going to be heat treated or cooked further such as salads, cookie dough etc.
  4. Keep everything clean and sanitised: Always make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap after handling any raw or frozen poultry products and eggs. Wash and disinfect all the surfaces and utensils that have been in contact with the raw meat during its preparation.
  5. Cook Meat and Eggs completely: Don’t consume half-cooked meat or runny yolks. Ensure you cook the meat thoroughly ( 70-degree Celsius or more) to inactivate the virus if present. Thorough cooking can inactivate all viruses. Ensure that no part of the meat is pink. Eggs yolks should not be runny or liquidy but cooked totally before consumption.

After the initial decrease in chicken and eggs consumption due to fake news spread around COVID-19, the demand for chickens and eggs increased drastically as the consumers realised that chicken and egg proteins help boost their immune system. Many hospitals and health specialists have recommended chicken soup and broth to help with their patients’ immunity, allowing them to recover fast.

The poultry industry is equipped with all the necessary measures and precautions required to ensure biosecurity and best practices prevent these seasonal viral outbreaks through its team of experienced veterinary doctors which work under carefully crafted govt and medical guidelines.

In summary, it is necessary to remember that there have been no cases of transfer of the virus from adequately cooked chicken and eggs to humans. As long as you follow acceptable hygiene practices and wear protective gear while handling raw uncooked poultry, you can enjoy having your daily protein fix.

Reference: https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr66/en/

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