EVEN AS both the Centre and Delhi government have said that it is safe to consume “properly cooked poultry products” and “Avian Influenza is not transmitted through cooked food”, all three municipal corporations of Delhi on Wednesday ordered a ban on the sale and storage of “poultry, processed or packaged chicken meat”.
While the written orders did not specify if sale of eggs was also banned, senior officials in the North and South MCDs said eggs were also prohibited.
In addition, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and South Delhi Municipal Corporation also ordered restaurants not to serve “poultry meat, poultry product and egg-based dishes”.
The East Delhi Municipal Corporation, however, refrained from issuing any orders to restaurants. Asked about this, a senior official of the East MCD said: “The virus gets killed at high temperature.”
All three civic bodies are ruled by the BJP.
“All meat and poultry shops and meat processing units in areas under the NDMC/ SDMC/ EDMC are prohibited to sell, store poultry or processed or packaged chicken meat with immediate effect, till further orders,” said the orders issued by the veterinary services departments of the civic bodies. The civic bodies warned that any violation would lead to revocation of the shop’s licence.
“All restaurant owners are being instructed not to serve poultry meat, poultry product and egg-based dishes, else there will be action against them,” added the orders issued by the North and South MCDs.
When contacted, North MCD Mayor Jai Prakash said that since the Ghazipur chicken mandi and other wholesale markets were closed, there shouldn’t be any supply to Delhi anyway. He said people could fall ill if the chicken was not cooked properly, and added that some gym-goers also eat raw eggs.
“We will ensure the guidelines are strictly implemented and also request the people to call on the helpline number if they spot any dead bird,” said East MCD Mayor Nirmal Jain.
Over the past week, several ducks at Sanjay Lake and crows across some parks in the city have been found dead. Some of the samples tested positive for bird flu.
The Delhi government has, however, issued an advisory stating that it is safe to consume properly cooked poultry meat and eggs.
Earlier this week, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that as a precautionary measure, a 10-day ban was being imposed on bringing livestock from outside into the national capital. The Ghazipur chicken mandi was also closed for 10 days.
However, Sisodia underlined that there was no need to panic. “There is a ban on selling packaged chicken or processed chicken brought from outside Delhi to prevent infection from one state to another. But there is no need to panic about bird flu. It is a common influenza. Its spread from bird to human has not been reported so far,” he said.
Earlier this month, in an action plan sent to states for “prevention, control and containment of Avian Influenza in the country,” the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying also said that “AI (Avian Influenza) is not transmitted through cooked food”.
“To date, no evidence indicates that anyone has become infected following the consumption of properly cooked poultry or poultry products, even when these foods were contaminated with the avian influenza virus,” it said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr Praveen Malik, Animal Husbandry Commissioner, said: “Consumption of properly cooked and boiled poultry products is absolutely safe. Avian influenza is destroyed at a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius. We normally cook at temperatures of over 100 degrees Celsius… Therefore, we never recommend any ban on any poultry product… There is no need to panic”.
— With inputs from Harikishan Sharma, New Delhi
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