Just as we heaved a sigh of relief with COVID -19 cases reducing and the vaccines being made, we now are facing the menace of bird flu. Should we be scared? Not at all! Mainly because there is enough scientific knowledge around this virus and our medical fraternity knows how to deal with it. Also, there are various ways to stay away from the infection like avoid eating non-veg foods. But for the non-vegetarians who just can't have their meals without at east one non-veg dish, it can be quite challenging and disappointing. And why not? It's the food that kept us engaged during the multiple lockdowns last year. So, the main question in everyone's mind is whether we should eat eggs and chickens or not? Let's understand.
What is Avian Flu (bird flu)?
There are various strains of this virus but the one that infects humans is H5N1. It causes severe respiratory diseases in birds and it is highly infectious.
How does Avian Flu (bird flu) spread to humans?
People working with birds are at the highest risk of getting infected. However, it does not transmit from one human to another, according to the WHO. Common symptoms associated with the infection are sore throat, high fever, malaise, muscle aches and, in serious cases, it progresses to Acute respiratory distress syndrome - ARDS. Why are we worried? Human infection can occur occasionally but with a very high mortality rate of 60%. Another concern is that if it mutates and becomes transmissible from one human to another, then we may have another pandemic.
Is It Safe To Consume Chicken And Eggs During Bird Flu?
The WHO guidelines are very clear: It is safe to eat well-cooked poultry and birds. The virus is sensitive to heat and cooking thoroughly will kill the virus. Normally, it has been seen that while cooking, if all parts of the food reach 70 degrees Celcius, the virus will be rendered dead. Therefore, make sure you cook your chicken and eggs well before eating them. Also, make sure that you buy eggs and chicken from a trusted shop/vendor. Here are some tips to protect yourself from the bird flu infection.
13 Expert Tips To Protect Yourself From Bird Flu Infection
Expert Tips To Cook Chicken And Eggs During Bird Flu:
1. Do not consume undercooked or raw poultry.
2. Cooking well is most important. The temperature should be evenly above 70 C in all parts of the food, so microwave cooking, which does not heat evenly, may not be the best choice.
3. Avoid food from roadside or outside as the cooking may not be thorough.
4. Cook for at least 30 mins after temperatures reach 70 degrees celsius.
5. Ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook food must be heated well.
6.Egg yolks should be cooked well, runny eggs are not a good option.
Also Read: 11 Best Egg Recipes for Breakfast | Easy Egg Recipes
Expert Tips To Buy Chicken And Eggs During Bird Flu:
7. Make sure that you buy from a trusted outlet where there is no chance of infected birds entering the food chain. The same applies while buying eggs. Go for the trusted brands/shops.
8. Raw birds should be handled hygienically. While buying raw chicken meat, make sure it is covered and chopped at a hygienic place.
9. Carry a utensil or bag to collect the bird, avoid shop packaging.
10. Avoid buying from open mandis/markets where there is a higher chance of getting an infected bird. Avoid going to animal markets.
Also Read: How To Marinate Chicken? 13 Easy Tips To Keep In Mind
Expert Kitchen Tips To Handle Chicken And Eggs During Bird Flu:
11. Keep the knives separate and wash all utensils before and after using them for raw poultry.
12.Wash your hands in between handling the poultry and other food items.
13. The infection enters our food chain only from poultry, other meats can be consumed but must be handled well.
While it is important to stay healthy and avoid all infections, WHO guidelines say that well-cooked and clean poultry is safe. In Indian states where the infection was detected, it would be advisable to be cautious and avoid chicken and eggs.
Stay safe, stay healthy!
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About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.