Eating chicken and eggs during bird flu? Here’s what a nutritionist wants you to know

The bird flu outbreak has made everyone wonder if it’s a good idea to eat chicken and eggs right now. If you’re wondering too, then listen to this nutritionist’s advice.
bird flu
As the bird flu scare lingers on, here’s what you need to know about your chicken consumption. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Archana Batra Published: 12 Jan 2021, 18:31 pm IST
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Amidst the rising cases of the novel coronavirus, the government has confirmed the spread of bird flu in several Indian states such as Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan, Kerala, and Himachal Pradesh. 

Avian influenza or bird flu, caused by the H5N1 type-A influenza virus, has already killed lots of birds across the country. Government authorities are also trying to cull off other bird species to curb the spread of this disease. 

This infection, which affects wild and poultry birds alike, has also instilled a fear in us when it comes to the consumption of chicken and other poultry items. Is eating chicken, eggs, duck, and turkey safe? Can you get bird flu by eating your favourite meats? 

While humans have been infected by bird flu in the past, the incidents have been rare—stemming from improper handling of infected birds. You can stay safe from this disease by following these tips: 

Take precautions while eating eggs and chicken

There is no scientific proof that the bird flu virus can affect a healthy human through poultry products like meat and eggs. As confirmed by the World Health Organisation, it is absolutely safe to eat bird eggs and/or meat if they are washed and cooked properly. They do not carry any viral strain responsible for bird flu, and are thus safe to eat. 

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Try avoiding eggs for a while if you can. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

That said, you must make sure you are adapting the right cooking procedure. Use heat upto 70 to 80 degree Celsius to kill any existing germs in the poultry products.

The WHO also recommends that adding a step of boiling the products before cooking ensures the safety even more. It is also important to maintain the hygiene properly while procuring or cooking the products. You need to choose trusted and organic places to buy eggs and meat. You should strictly avoid buying slaughtered meat of dead birds, as it increases the risk.  

Follow the right washing procedure for poultry products

Washing the meat under running water does not always eliminate the germs completely. After washing it, use a gentle paper towel to soak away the sliminess and then cook it under the recommended temperature.

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Washing raw chicken properly is a mandate. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

While buying eggs, avoid stale ones. During this period, it is better to have hard boiled eggs rather than having ones with runny yolks. Also maintain the basic hygiene like washing hands before and after cooking with antiseptic soaps. 

To stay safe from bird flu, remember…

Apart from the above-mentioned precautions, make sure you are having home cooked food as much as possible. Even if you are going out to restaurants, you need to do a quality check beforehand. 

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To be on the safe side, you can opt for fish, prawns and other seafood instead of chicken and eggs. If you abide by these suggestions of medical professionals, you can easily avoid the bird flu and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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About the Author

Dr Archana Batra is a dietitian, physiotherapist, and a certified diabetes educator. Dr Archana has 12 years of experience in nutrition and diet counseling. She believes in maintaining healthy eating. Her specialization is on weight management diets and diets related to metabolic disorders like diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and hypertension etc. ...Read More

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