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Bird flu scare: Is it safe to consume eggs and chicken? Here’s what you should know – Times of India


While coronavirus cases continue to soar across the world, we have another reason to worry- the emergence of bird flu.

According to official sources, several states in India, including Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab and Rajasthan are witnessing avian bird influenza which has already killed a lot of birds and forced the authorities to cull off thousands of other bird species.

Experts are also worried that the current strain of the infection, H5N1, considered to be the most lethal one, is also something that could turn into a pandemic if not controlled in time and preventive steps are taken. Government authorities, meanwhile, have also asked states affected by bird flu to ‘prepare for any eventuality’.

While this year’s Avian influenza is not the first one we have seen, bird flu is one such infectious disease which can easily pass on from birds onto humans. It has also sparked fears amongst poultry and non-vegetarians if it is safe to eat poultry and produce since the strain can also infect humans.

If you are worried, here’s an explainer on the same.

How can bird flu infect humans?

While Avian flu is the most dangerous for birds, the infection can transmit to humans through faeces and other droppings.

However, do remember that bird flu cannot spread from humans to humans. There have been rare recorded cases worldwide.

Upon infection, humans can go through a host of respiratory symptoms such as the ones caused by ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) including cough, cold, chest pain, sore throat.

Considering the risk of catching bird flu is on the higher side right now, there are also fears that people may develop bird flu by eating poultry produce such as eggs, or bird meat in itself.

Can you get bird flu by consuming eggs and poultry?

Scientifically, there’s little evidence to support the fact that bird flu can spread to healthy people via produce like eggs and meat. Any food item, egg or bird meat which is thoroughly washed and cooked is safe to eat and does not act as the carrier of the virus.

The same has also been attested by the WHO. Whenever any meat or poultry produce is exposed to heat, it kills any germs, pathogens or viruses which may be present on the surface (or even beneath it). Hence, cooking your produce thoroughly makes it safer for use. This is also a precautionary step people should take before consuming any type of non-veg food.

According to experts, a cooking temperature of upto 70-degree celsius that reaches all parts of the produce or meat is good to kill germs.

Depending on the produce, an added step of boiling produce may also be taken.

The WHO, in its past advisory also suggested people practice safe hygienic practices before procuring or cooking any produce, and make sure to source ingredients from organic, trusted places. Slaughtered meat or handling of dead or diseased birds before cooking is the one which is the riskiest right now.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation also recommends that one of the best ways to minimize your risk of infection is by keeping infected birds away from the food chain at all levels- that is ensure you procure your products from genuine, trusted sources.

Should you wash eggs and chicken before use?

While many would feel washing produce under running water would wash away bacteria and germs, it might not be the case. A better way to do so would be to use a gentle paper towel to do away with the sliminess and then proceed to thoroughly cook it under suitable temperatures.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences also recommends that people follow precaution while buying eggs- do not buy the ones which are too stale. Ensure it is good for consumption and hygienic cooking practices are followed at all levels.

Even though cooking kills the germs, If you do go to a restraunt to eat, or order in, try and ask for quality checks beforehand. Hence, one of the best ways to stay safe would be to adopt good measures on your own end and eat home-cooked food, as much as possible.

For example, while cooking an egg, ensure that the yellow yolk becomes firm and avoid eating runny eggs during the course of the outbreak.

Lastly, do remember that we are already in the middle of a wide-spread pandemic. Wash your hands with good quality soap and water for 20-30 seconds before and after cooking. As long as you follow good hand hygiene, take care of your source of produce and cook it well, there’s no real reason to worry.

(Image taken for representational purposes only)



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Sahilhttp://digitalguruji.org
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