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Is it safe to cook chicken in microwave oven amid bird flu scare? Check here

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New Delhi: Avian influenza has been confirmed in 10 states across India, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying confirmed on Monday (January 11, 2021).

Amid the bird flu scare, several questions arise on the handling, processing and consuming the poultry products.

One such question is whether is it safe to cook chicken in a microwave oven or not.

The answer is NO because the chicken, egg and meat don’t get cooked properly in a microwave oven. It should not be grilled either and should be properly cooked on a gas stove instead. 

According to the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, the poultry meat cooked at more than 70 degrees C temperatures for 30 minutes inactivates the virus and it is absolutely safe to consume properly cooked poultry meat and eggs.

The DAHD said that in areas free of the disease, poultry and poultry products can be prepared and consumed as usual (following good hygienic practices and proper cooking), with no fear of acquiring infection with the avian influenza virus.

However, in areas experiencing outbreaks, poultry and poultry products can also be safely consumed provided these items are properly cooked and properly handled during food preparation. The avian influenza virus is sensitive to heat. Normal temperatures used for cooking (70 degrees C in all parts of the food) will kill the virus. 

They stated, “Consumers need to be sure that all parts of the poultry are fully cooked (no ‘pink’ parts) and that eggs, too, are properly cooked (no ‘runny’ yolks).”

The consumers should also be aware of the risk of cross-contamination and during food preparation, raw poultry and poultry products should never be allowed to mix with items eaten raw. 

“When handling raw poultry or raw poultry products, persons involved in food preparation should wash their hands thoroughly and clean and disinfect surfaces in contact with the poultry products. Soap and hot water are sufficient for this purpose,” stated DAHD.

In areas experiencing outbreaks in poultry, raw eggs should not be used in foods that will not be further heat-treated as, for example by cooking or baking.

Notably, no human case of avian influenza virus has been reported in India so far.

According to the World Health Organization, though human cases of H5 and H7 avian influenza virus have been reported in several countries, the avian influenza viruses did not spread easily from birds to humans as evidenced by the huge number of birds affected and the numerous associated opportunities for human exposure, especially in areas where backyard flocks are common. 

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