Drumsticks safe, have your fill
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Drumsticks safe, have your fill

Take Heart, there is no need to deprive your family of butter chicken and scrambled eggs.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 01:54 IST

Take Heart, there is no need to deprive your family of butter chicken and scrambled eggs. Experts from the World Health Organisation say cooked chicken and eggs are safe. Since this bird flu pandemic was detected in 2003, no case of infection through consumption of poultry products has been found anywhere in the world.

“Eating chicken and eggs are safe. Since the bird flu outbreak among poultry is localised to a small local area in Navapur and has not spread, you can continue eating fried eggs and tandoori chicken. I eat chicken every day,” says Salim Habayeb, a WHO representative. Cooking, which is needed to kill most harmful bacteria and viruses, also protects against the H5N1 virus. “You will need to ensure that the chicken is cooked well and the eggs hard-boiled, only if bird flu spreads to an area near you,” he adds.

Even health secretary Prasanna Hota said he had chicken for dinner, and Dr N. K. Ganguly, director-general, Indian Council of Medical Research, said he had it for lunch. “The virus dies at 70 degrees Celsius, so unless you are eating chicken that is dripping blood, you are at no risk. Even then, the risk stands only if the chicken is infected, which is not the case in the rest of the country yet,” Ganguly said. The government has been conducting random tests of birds from poultry farms. The samples were tested in Bhopal. All except those from Navapur tested negative. “We’ll intensify surveillance now that the disease has been detected in India,” said Upma Chawdhry, joint secretary, department of animal husbandry.

Health secretary Hota said he was concerned about Indian Airlines and Indian Railways dropping chicken from their menu. “We will ask the railways and the airlines to put chicken and eggs back on their menu as it adds to the panic,” Hota said.

Even if bird flu is detected in Delhi poultry, what people would actually need to worry about is surface contamination. “More than what you eat, you have to worry about contamination of raw meat and eggs by infected droppings and secretions from infected birds, but these also die after cooking,” reassures Habayeb. It is contact with live or freshly slaughtered birds that puts people at risk. According to the WHO, exposure is most likely during slaughter, de-feathering, and butchering.

First Published: Feb 21, 2006 01:54 IST