Just as restaurants and eateries across Delhi-NCR had started to recover from the effect of the Covid lockdown, they say they’ve been dealt another blow in the form of curbs on serving eggs and chicken dishes. Both North and South MCDs have told restaurants to not serve such dishes until further orders, citing bird flu.
“I don’t understand the logic since any meat cooked above 70 degrees has been declared safe,” said Anurag Katriar, president of the National Restaurant Association of India, an umbrella body of more than 20,000 restaurants across India.
“On Wednesday morning itself, the Delhi government gave an ad saying poultry is safe, and now the corporations have declared a ban. It not only impacts sales but also the sentiments of patrons who had just started to feel safe eating out,” said Katriar, who is also Executive Director and CEO, deGustibus Hospitality.
Yash Garg, director of Republic of Chicken, which has 20 outlets in Delhi, said: “We were already struggling with the impact of Covid and now have to deal with this. Our sales are down by about 50 per cent since the news of bird flu started doing the rounds. Since there are a lot of rumours floating around, some clarity from the government would help a lot. Meanwhile, we are waiting for authorities to visit our poultry farms in Punjab on Thursday and give us the fitness certificate.”
Eateries and delivery places said they are taking adequate precautions to boost consumer sentiment. Vishal Jindal, co-CEO & cofounder of Biryani By Kilo, which processes over 1,000 orders a day, said they are using high-quality ingredients and meats, and cooking all meat at 250 degrees celsius and above for biryanis and kebabs.
Some are looking to diversify in case bird flu turns out to be a long haul.
“So far, the customer isn’t refraining from ordering, but we are switching them to fish as it is in the season, and fortunately there are a lot of varieties of fish available. Also, we have a few red meat options,” says Saurabh Khanijo, director, Kylin Experience.
Jasmeet Banga, promoter of Pirates of Grill, said they have added options of fish, prawns and vegetables to their buffet menu. “Any chicken item cooked above 70 degrees is absolutely safe to eat as per the health advisory. We are strictly following these norms,” he said.
The order has also made meat retailers and egg sellers apprehensive. “This has majorly impacted the unorganised sector even though our sales are steady. There have been similar scares of bird flu in the past, and since then we have been educating our customers on the safety measures we take, including bio-fencing, rigorous testing in the labs, and we upload the certificates for all to see,” said Shan Kadavil, CEO and founder, FreshToHome, an online fish and meat retailer.