"Don't worry ma'am. India is not affected by swine flu. Therefore the pork that we sell is absolutely safe for consumption," replied the exasperated manager of a pork shop for the nth time on the phone.
India may not be affected by the recent outbreak of influenza A(H1N1), but it sure has raised doubts in the minds of those who buy pork.
Avika Ghosh, an entrepreneur, said that to be on the safe side, she has been avoiding pork "at least until the swine flu talk is over".
"I have read up about swine flu and follow the news regularly, so I know that we are safe in India. Still to be on the safe side I have told my family to avoid eating pork until the end of the flu," Ghosh said.
Transmission of influenza A(H1N1) from pigs to human is not common and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has clearly said that properly cooked pork poses no health risk.
"Swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs," WHO said on its website.
Yet, people are worried about transmission of the virus through pork consumption.
Vijay Rajora, manager of the Super Empire store in south Delhi's Khan market, said that ever since the outbreak of the influenza A (H1N1) he has been getting a lot of queries on swine flu from his customers.
"Most of our customers these days ask us whether the pork that we sell is safe for consumption, especially with news of swine flu cases floating all around. We get a number of queries on phone as well," Rajora told IANS.
He, however, said that after the initial round of queries, people buy the pork items anyways.
"Despite all the inquisitive queries, the demand for pork has not come down nor has the price," Rajora added.
Similarly, Rajiv, who works with the meat shop Pig Pork in south Delhi's Shanti Niketan market, said: "We have been getting queries whether the ham and pork that we get has come from hygienic places, and if it's safe enough to eat it now when there is a swine flu outbreak."
"We reply to the best of our knowledge - that India is unaffected by swine flu. The bottom line is that they may be a little worried, but they will buy whatever they came to buy. The price of pork, which is Rs.220 per kg, has remained unchanged and so has the demand," he said.