- Poultry hasn’t been found to be involved in transmission of COVID-19: Govt
- COVID-19 is not a foodborne disease, safe to consume poultry: Experts
- Eating hygienically prepared and well-cooked chicken is safe: WHO
New Delhi: Since the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus in India in late January this year, misinformation is also spreading, probably as fast as the rise in COVID-19 cases. The SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 is a new virus which got detected in late December 2019 and as of now, experts all around the world have limited information about it. The lack of knowledge about the virus is turning out to be a bane as misconceptions continue to spread through various communication platforms. One of the common questions is, do poultry products cause COVID-19?
Is There Any Connection Between Coronavirus And Poultry Products?
The question is understandable considering the theory that has been postulated around the spread of the highly contagious disease leading to a pandemic. Though the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 has not yet been established, it’s said that the virus originated in bats and from there it transmitted to an intermediary animal, suspected to a pangolin or snake and then from there possibly affected humans.
Other viruses in the coronavirus family, like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) were identified in animals like bats, dromedary camels which then infected humans following which the virus spread between people through people to people contact.
The predominant route or transmission of 2019-nCoV (Coronavirus) appears to be human to human as per World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), though 2019-nCoV may have had an animal source, which requires further investigation. Poultry has not been found to be involved in transmission of 2019-nCoV to humans so far in any report globally. Similarly, outbreaks of Coronavirus in the past or Corona associated common cold had no involvement of poultry or poultry products world over. Thus, with present knowledge of affairs of 2019-nCoV, consumption of poultry and poultry products may be considered safe, reads an official letter dated February 10, 2020, by Dr Praveen Malik, Animal Husbandry Commissioner.
To Eat Or Not To Eat Poultry Products?
NDTV spoke to the experts and they very categorically stated that COVID-19 is not a foodborne disease and there is no evidence that poultry products can transmit Novel Coronavirus. However, experts recommend eating well-cooked meal to avoid any infection. Suggesting the same, Dr Anupa Siddhu, Director of Lady Irwin College and a nutritionist, said,
No, poultry products do not cause COVID-19. There is no evidence and reason to believe otherwise. Just have a very well cooked meal and don’t keep it for long. Consume the freshly cooked meal within two to three hours.
A similar guideline has been issued by the World Health Organisation – South-East Asia that states,
Eating hygienically prepared and well-cooked chicken is safe and does not cause the spread of the new coronavirus.
Talking about the reason behind the myth and whether or not people should give up poultry products or take any kind of precaution while consuming poultry products, Dr Rajesh Khanna, Deputy Director of Health and Nutrition at Save The Children said,
The people are scared probably because of the origin of the COVID-19. What we know is that it originated in China’s Wuhan and probably bat was the carrier. But till now, there is no evidence to say this is transmitted through poultry products. However, what’s to be noted is that poultry products might be responsible for COVID-19 but they do cause some diseases and, in the past, they have caused Avian Influenza, Swine Influenza and others. Chicks are usually the carriers.
Dr Khanna also noted that there are different strains of SARS-CoV-2 and it’s impacting people in different ways. For instance, in China, COVID-19 affected people of all age groups whereas, in Europe, elderlies were being impacted severely. Everywhere the strain is changing a bit but as of now, there has been no evidence of the virus transmitting through poultry products.
FSSAI Tells How To Clean And Store Meat And Eggs
On World Food Safety Day (June 7), the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) released a book titled Eat Right During COVID-19. The book highlights safe food practices to be followed to avoid the spread of the virus and safeguard health through adequate nutrition. In the same book, FSSAI has listed out ways to clean and store meat and egg after bringing them home.
FSSAI suggests cleaning meat at the end that is after the cleaning of fruits and vegetables. The meat should be cleaned under running tap water, dripped, packed and refrigerated appropriately.
As far as eggs are concerned, the thumb rule is to not buy broken or damaged eggs. The eggs should be stored at refrigeration temperature. The tray used to keep eggs should be periodically cleaned and disinfected. Most importantly, eggs should be purchased as per consumption and ideally consumed within a week from the date of purchase.
FSSAI also suggests simple ways to wash eggs and states,
In a bowl, add drinking water that is warmer than the egg (but not hot). Dip the egg into the water and lightly wipe it clean. Rinse the egg under cool drinking water. Gently dry and refrigerate or use immediately.
FSSAI has strictly asked to not disinfect eggs using any antibacterial substances or cleaner like bleach as eggs have a porous surface and disinfectants can transverse the porous shell of the egg and cause contamination.