Poultry Association says nation’s eggs and chicken — when properly cooked — are safe
There’s no reason to worry about contracting bird flu from consuming local poultry products.
The South African Poultry Association (Sapa) has assured consumers that properly cooked, locally produced eggs and chicken pose no risk to public health, despite the avian flu outbreak.
In a statement jointly issued on Monday by Sapa’s Dr Abongile Balarane and Monique Piderit, a dietitian, the association said all affected farms had immediately been placed under quarantine, which meant no live chickens or eggs were allowed to be removed from the farms. The Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were affected by the H5N1 strain of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus, and the Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West by the H7N6 strain.
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“Chickens infected with HPAI get sick fairly quickly and die. Generally, the first signs of sick animals include a drop in production, meaning that sick chickens will produce very few (if any) eggs. This, together with the added mitigation of placing farms under quarantine, means no eggs from these infected farms will make their way to the shelves.”
Producers are required to destroy the carcasses and feed during the culling process.
Heat effectively destroys this virus, Balarane and Piderit said, adding that there have been no reported cases of the spread of this virus from chicken meat or eggs to humans.
“Of course, eating raw eggs may put you at risk of food-borne illness, this is why it is important to always cook your eggs properly before eating. Cooking can even improve the absorption of some nutrients in the egg, like protein, which is important for immunity and muscle building.”
Prof Gunnar Sigge, head of the Food Science Department at Stellenbosch University, told Cape Talk that the cooked chicken and egg products were safe but he would advise against eating raw eggs. “Both chicken meat and eggs, if cooked properly, don’t pose any risk for transmission of the disease. I would avoid raw eggs at this stage for several reasons, not just the avian flu, but if they are cooked properly then it isn’t a risk. I would stay away from any uncooked poultry or eggs at the moment.”
Last week, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition called on the International Trade Administration Commission to consider a temporary rebate on anti-dumping duties on imports of poultry products from Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain to offset shortages of local chicken.
Balarane said the industry was also speaking with the government about importing eggs and fast-tracking the permits for importing products such as liquid and powdered egg products, which can be used for industrial purposes. DM