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  • Samriddhi Manral

Bird flu: Is it safe to consume Egg and Meat?

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Avian influenza commonly known as bird flu has seen its incidence yet again in India. It is caused when bird comes in contact with the H5N1 influenza virus causing major respiratory disease in them. The virus is transmitted when this infected bird weather dead or alive, comes in contact with humans.

The symptoms in human include fever, cold, cough, shortness of breath, headache, nausea and vomiting.

However, there is no case of human to human transmission of the virus reported as of now.

So, the question arises if it is safe to consume egg and poultry during bird flu infection?

UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) have jointly launched certain guidelines to clear the air.

Chicken, Egg and other poultry are safe to eat if cooked properly. According to FAO/WHO cooking of poultry (e.g. chicken, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea-fowl) properly at or above 70°Celsius, so that absolutely no meat remains raw and red. It makes the food safe for consumption. This is because this temperature is enough to kill the H5N1 virus in areas with outbreaks in poultry.

Indian cooking generally involves cooking thoroughly at high temperature which ensures that there is no active virus remaining, if the live bird has been infected.

As far as the egg is concerned, sick birds will normally stop producing eggs. Although, eggs laid in the early phase of the disease could contain viruses in the egg-white and yolk as well as on the surface of the shell. Eggs should not be consumed raw or partially cooked (i.e., with runny yolk).

Proper cooking inactivates the virus present inside the eggs. Pasteurization used by industry for liquid egg products is also effective in inactivating the virus.

Food handling practices to prevent the infection of Bird Flu

✅Raw egg/poultry and cooked food should be kept separately. This would reduce the risk of cross contamination and prevent the infestation of virus.

✅The food should be cooked thoroughly and no partially cooked meat, egg, pork should be consumed.

✅The cooking temperatures should be maintained above 70 degree Celsius to ensure that the virus is inactivated and the food is safe to eat.

✅ Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw poultry and eggs.

✅After cutting raw meat, wash cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water.

Apart from this personal hygiene and sanitation should be maintained. You should wear mask and gloves while handling meat/poultry. Also, you should avoid purchasing chicken which looks sluggish. You should avoid direct contact with poultry and should not touch birds with your bare hands.

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