If you are one of the many turning your nose at poultry due to the threat of bird flu, you may be interested to know there are measures you can take in order to continue to eat your favorite foods. There have been contradictory reports on whether the virus has been spread from the consumption of undercooked poultry, but you should err on the side of safety in this regard to avoid becoming infected.
Interestingly enough, many of the bird flu precautions are the same precautions you should already be taking to avoid bacteria such as salmonella. A little common sense and good hygiene will go a long way in preventing infection.
The first and most obvious tip is – DO NOT EAT RAW POULTRY! Aside from being disgusting, it is also dangerous. You should fully cook all meat you ingest. How do you tell if the meat is fully cooked? It should not retain any pink color, the juice should run clear, and the meat should reach a temperature of at least 70 to 75 degrees Celsius or roughly 165 degrees Fahrenheit. While freezing will not kill the disease, heat will - but only at sufficient temperatures. Therefore, you should be sure to thoroughly cook all poultry.
Other tips from the World Health Organization (WHO) include a few more of the basics. You should not handle raw meat without washing your hands thoroughly before and after (with antibacterial soap, preferably); you should take special care not to cross contaminate cooked food and raw meat by allowing the two to come in contact, using the same knife or other utensils, or handling food without properly washing your hands; and do not place cooked food back on the same plate or dish it was on when it was raw. Each of these is basic information that applies to, not only poultry, but all meat.
Also, thoroughly wash all surfaces and dishes that come in contact with raw meat (with antibacterial cleanser or soap). You should also avoid using raw or undercooked eggs in food preparation and cook eggs thoroughly (they suggest cooking until yolks are no longer runny).
In handling meat, you should also remember that the bird flu virus is not killed by freezing; therefore, all precautions should also be taken in handling frozen poultry as though it had just come from the market. With these simple steps, you can feel comfortable ingesting poultry, free from worry about bird flu.
Sarah is an acclaimed writer on medical matters, and has written extensively on the subjects of Attention Deficit Disorder, Bird Flu and Crohn’s Disease.
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