It is safe to eat chicken - like it has always been
(as appeared in The Hindu, dated 30th January 2004, Chennai edition, page 17)

  1. Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) is not existing in India. Not even a single case has been reported in our country.
  2. AI is a disease of Birds - It is not a disease of human beings. AI has been there in Pakistan since 1992. It has also been reported in several developed countries like The Netherlands and other Western Countries for a long time; and it has been effectively controlled through various scientific efforts.
  3. AI is not talked about or taken so seriously in the developed countries, because they have the required infrastructure and the technology to tackle the problem at the form (sic) level itself. In these countries the disease appears off and on, and is controlled from time to time.
  4. In India too we have such advanced technology and facilities for disease surveillance, diagnosis and monitoring - both in the private sector as well as in the public sector.
  5. VH Group's Poultry diagnostic and Research Centre (PDRC) at Pune is equipped with the latest and highly advanced facilities for disease diagnosis and monitoring. This lab is supported by a nation wide network of five regional laboratories, over 50 satellite laboratories and 20 technical service centers located all over India. These labs are manned by highly competent Poultry scientist with several decades of experience, and further supported by a team of more than 300 Veterinarians providing round the-clock technical assistance to the farmers. In its disease surveillance and monitoring program, PDRC places a special emphasis on the border states, so that any possibility of cross border infection can be immediately detected. Such surveillance by PDRC has been in place on the border with Pakistan for the past 10 years and continues to remain so.
  6. In addition to this, the Government infrastructure and labs-Iike IVRI, Izatnagar, is also world class.
  7. The situation we are seeing now in Vietnam and other Asian countries cannot be compared to the Poultry Scenario in our country. Vietnam's poultry industry is atleast 50 years behind India. It is a totally backyard poultry. The same is true with the neighbouring countries and most of the Asian countries. They do not have any technical support and their technology and farming practices are very primitive.
  8. In this scenario one should look at what the World Health Organisation (WHO) says. Who in its bulletin dated 24th January 2004, says.
    "Laboratories in the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance are chatacterizing avian and human viruses obtained from the current outbreaks. Preliminary results indicate that these viruses are significantly different from other H5N1 strains isolated in Asia in the recent past, thus necessitating the development of a new prototype strain for use in vaccine manufacturing."
    This clearly shows that the virus strain affecting the poultry in the Asian countries presently is entirely different from the human viruses - and hence there is no reason to be scared. In the same bulletin WHO has also said.
    "While trade restrictions have been put in place by some countries to protect animal health, on the basis of presently available data, WHO does not conclude that any processed poultry products (whole refrigerated or frozen carcasses and products derived from them) and eggs in or arriving from areas currently experiencing outbreaks of Avian Influenza H5N1 in poultry pose a risk to public health."
    This clearly establishes that chicken or egg consumption has no correlation whatsoever with Avian Influenza and that such consumption poses no risk to human health.
  9. The consumers should take cognizance of scientific facts and the opinion of WHO rather than being carried away by unsubstantiated statements. We also appeal to responsible scientists to go by what the WHO says in their daily bulletins/News Letters. After all WHO is the biggest research center and the ultimate authority as far as matters of human health are concerned.
  10. The Honourable Health Minister Smt. Sushama Swaraj has also clarified on behalf of the Government of India that India is free from AI and there is no reason to panic.
    In a nutshell, we would like to say,
    • There is no Avian Influenza in India
    • The Indian Poultry Industry and the government of India are fully capable of preventing, detecting and controlling the disease if at all it occurs.
    • AI is not related to consumption of chicken and it is absolutely safe to consume chicken meat and eggs.
Issued in public interest by
National Egg Co-ordination Committee
Poultry Development and Promotion Council

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