MCDs ban sale, stocking of poultry; eateries can’t serve chicken or eggs
The three municipal corporations (MCDs) of Delhi on Wednesday imposed a blanket ban on the storage, packaging and sale of all poultry across the national capital, triggering anguish among retailers and restaurant owners who said that if the order was not reviewed immediately, the supply of chicken and eggs will come to a complete halt in Delhi.
The MCDs also prohibited restaurants and hotels from serving any item containing chicken or eggs to their customers. The orders, issued separately by the three civic bodies, stated that the rules were applicable with immediate effect, and that any violation would attract penal action or cancellation of the meat trade licences.
The Delhi government had on Monday confirmed the spread of avian influenza in the Capital, shut the Ghazipur wholesale poultry market for 10 days, and banned the entry of live birds into the city without proper health certification from authorised veterinarians. Later, the government also prohibited the sale of packaged or processed chicken brought from outside Delhi. But it did not completely ban the sale of chicken and eggs in the city.
On Wednesday, the north, south and east Delhi municipal corporations went a step further by imposing a complete ban on any form of activity related to poultry and live birds in the areas under their jurisdiction, including prohibiting restaurants and hotels from serving any item containing chicken or eggs to their customers.
The civic bodies said their decision was based on the Delhi government’s recent orders, which banned all forms of trade related to poultry.
However, a Delhi government spokesperson said the orders issued by the MCDs were more stringent compared to what the city administration had done.
Jai Prakash, mayor of the north Delhi municipal corporation (North MCD), said the civic body has asked those involved in the poultry business to strictly follow the prohibitory orders. “If violated, action will be taken by the deputy director (veterinary services) of all zones and their meat trade licence will also be cancelled. Owners of restaurants are being ordered not to serve food containing poultry meat and eggs otherwise penal action will be initiated against them as per the law,” he said.
The east MCD also issued a similar order and said people are also being requested call on the helpline number 011-23890318, if they find any unnatural death of birds in their locality.
Anurag Katriar, president of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), said they will write to the MCDs requesting them to rescind the rules.
“What is more surprising is that the Delhi government had actually given out newspaper advertisements today morning assuring that well-cooked meat or egg is safe to eat. Businesses are being affected due to the multiplicity of authority in the city,” he said. Health experts have also pointed out that chicken thoroughly cooked above 70 degrees Celsius is safe to consume.
Restaurateur Priyank Sukhija, owner of restaurants brands such as Tamasha, Lord of the Drinks, Warehouse Café and Teddy Boy, said because of the MCD order they will have to trash cold-processed chicken worth lakhs of rupees.
“Cold processed chicken has a maximum shelf-life of a month. Our current stock was to be totally used up within the next 10-15 days, but now it will have to be trashed. Also, Delhi lives on chicken, especially butter chicken. Our restaurants see a huge demand for chicken items, with that being taken off the shelves, now we are likely to see a drastic drop in customer footfall as well,” said Sukhija.
Irshad Qureshi, general secretary, Delhi meat traders’ association, said of the 6,000 licensed meat shops registered under the group, nearly 2,500 shops sell only chicken. “Their businesses had dropped by nearly 60-70% in the past one week because of bird flu. Now, it has come to a complete halt,” Qureshi said.
Dr Shobha Broor, former head of the department of microbiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said people could still eat chicken, but precautions must be taken. “The virus gets killed once the chicken is thoroughly cooked above 70 degrees Celsius. People need to take precautions with the raw chicken -- they should use gloves to handle it, they should clean the surface where the uncooked chicken is kept thoroughly, and wash their hands properly,” said Dr Broor.