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Properly prepared and cooked poultry meat and eggs are safe to eat: FSSAI
Friday, 22 January, 2021, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
With reporting of Bird Flu at several places across the country, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has issued a guidance note on safe handling, processing and consumption of poultry meat and eggs. The apex food authority has declared that properly prepared and cooked poultry meat and eggs are safe to eat.

Aimed at creating awareness amongst Food Business Operators (FBOs) and consumers, the guidance note also provides inputs to the consumers for safe handling of poultry and eggs at the household level during the pandemic. 

FSSAI in a statement has urged the FBOs and consumers not to panic and ensure proper handling and cooking of poultry meat and eggs for its safe consumption as outlined in the guidance document.

According to the guidance note, proper cooking inactivates the virus present inside the meat and eggs. Poultry meat and eggs from the areas affected with outbreaks in poultry should not be consumed raw or partially cooked. 

“To date, no evidence indicates that anyone has become infected following the consumption of properly cooked poultry or poultry products, even if these foods were contaminated with the avian influenza virus,” reads the statement by FSSAI while adding  that the virus is destroyed at 70°C if held for about 3 seconds. Also, properly cooking meat or eggs to achieve a temperature of 74°C in eggs or all parts of meat will inactivate the virus. 

Avian influenza, or “bird flu” or “avian flu” is an infection caused by avian influenza (flu) viruses and several parts of the country have reported such incidences, wherein the local bodies have even shut down several meat processing markets.

These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines but usually do not get sick from them. However, bird flu is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chicken and ducks, very sick and kill them. 

Avian influenza (AI), as per World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), is defined as an infection of poultry caused by any influenza A virus of the H5 or H7 subtypes or by any influenza A virus with an intravenous pathogenicity index (IVPI) greater than 1.2. These viruses are divided into high pathogenicity avian influenza viruses and low pathogenicity avian influenza viruses.

FSSAI has asked the FBOs to follow good hygiene practices while handling and preparation of poultry meat products, which includes washing and disinfecting all surfaces and utensils that have been in contact with the raw meat. 

Also, the department of animal husbandry has also issued a revised action plan for  control and containment of avian influenza, in which advisory was issued to state governments for general preparedness, surveillance, testing, and coordinating with stakeholders. Further it guides the states on actions to be taken to handle a confirmed outbreak of avian influenza. 

And the Government is keeping a close eye on the fluid situation as Avian flu has been confirmed in 10 states since the first incident was reported in Kerala in the first half of December 2020. 

Meanwhile experts feel that the impact on the poultry industry would not be greater. The avian flu outbreak in India could pare poultry sales by a third this month, but the industry will bounce back in quick time, with profitability intact for the full fiscal, says rating agency CRISIL’s analysis of 87 poultry companies it rates, which comprise ~30 per cent of the industry’s revenue.

According to CRISIL, the flu has chopped around 30 per cent off broiler chicken volume, bringing down daily chicken demand in the country from 100 lakh kg in December 2020 to an estimated 70 lakh kg in January 2021. Additionally, wholesale prices of broiler chicken have crashed 20-30 per cent from Rs 105-110 per kg in December 2020, to Rs 80 per kg. Given this, overall revenue could decline 30-40 per cent in January 2021 due to a fall in realisations and volume.

Dinesh Jain, director, CRISIL Ratings Limited, elaborated, “The impact of the current avian flu outbreak on the poultry industry will depend on its intensity and duration. In recent past, the impact of such outbreaks has been temporary due to swift implementation of testing, culling and containment protocols by the authorities. Fears against chicken consumption do not last for more than a few weeks as the infection rate abates. We, therefore, believe CRISIL’s earlier estimate of 200 bps increase in operating margin to 7-7.5 per cent this fiscal will hold despite the outbreak.”
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