The World Health Organization is reassuring people that they are not at risk of contracting the avian flu virus from eating properly cooked poultry and eggs.
The World Health Organization says it is worried people may stop eating chicken because of the growing concern about bird flu. During the mad cow scare, sales of beef plummeted. WHO spokesman Ian Simpson tells VOA there is no need to panic.
"At this stage, there is no evidence of anyone having become sick, anyone becoming infected with avian influenza as a result of eating properly cooked, properly prepared meat and egg from poultry," said Mr. Simpson. "So, there is no reason to stop eating chicken. There is no reason to stop eating eggs. But, there is every reason to insure that any chicken meat, any poultry meat or any eggs that are consumed are properly prepared and properly cooked."
The World Health Organization says thorough cooking will kill any virus, including the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu. Eggs from sick birds could also contain the virus. So, the World Health Organization advises people from affected areas not to eat raw, or undercooked eggs.
The U.N. health agency says birds from diseased flocks should not enter the food chain, and infected birds should not be used for animal feed. But, the World Health Organization says consumers run no risk of getting the virus through handling or eating poultry in areas where there is no bird flu outbreak.
Mr. Simpson says people in affected areas often are exposed to the H5N1 virus during the slaughtering and subsequent handling of diseased or dead birds. He says people can take precautionary measures.
"For example, if people are preparing them, they should ideally be wearing protection of their face, and also protection of their hands," he added. "That the area where they are protecting them should be a hygienic area. It should be able to be completely cleaned, so that, at the end of the day, or at the end of the shift, when the chickens have been prepared, that all of the waste material is gotten rid of safely and hygienically, so that the waste material does not pose any risk to people coming into the area afterwards."
The World Health Organization says raw meat should be separated from cooked or ready-to-eat foods to avoid contamination. It says people preparing food in areas with avian-flu outbreaks should wash hands frequently, and all surfaces and utensils that have been in contact with raw meat should be washed and disinfected.