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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2005, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Experts offer bird flu egg advice
Image of eggs
Food experts advise that eggs should be cooked thoroughly
Poultry and eggs should be thoroughly cooked before consumption to avoid any risk of bird flu, food experts advise.

Although the risk of these products carrying avian flu is extremely low, the European Food Safety Authority has reiterated its advice.

Raw eggs and chicken can carry bugs and viruses that people can catch, such as salmonella and theoretically bird flu.

By thoroughly cooking these foods people can avoid the risk, no matter how small it is.

We are not aware of any reports of people getting avian flu from eating poultry or eggs
A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency

An EFSA spokeswoman said, given measures already in place, the risk of bird flu entering the food chain was in fact very low.

She added: "Should this happen in future cooking will also be protective."

The advice has been issued because anxiety about bird flu has raised public concern about the safety of poultry products. The spokeswoman said: "We are not saying anything new, we are simply reiterating food safety advice."

Cook thoroughly

A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency said: "Like EFSA, we are not aware of any reports of people getting avian flu from eating poultry or eggs.

"The issue is people having contact with live birds that have the disease.

"EFSA appears to be reiterating long-standing food safety advice about cooking poultry and eggs thoroughly to kill bugs and viruses."

The European Commission said that the consumption of poultry eggs and meat in the EU poses no bird flu risk to humans.

"We don't have avian influenza in commercial poultry in the European Union and we consider that poultry meat and eggs, especially when properly cooked, pose no risk to human health," said spokesman Philip Tod.

Professor Hugh Pennington of the Society for General Microbiology, said: "The virus is transmitted by live birds. It's not in the poultry meat and it's certainly not in eggs."

We eat about 30 million eggs every day in the UK.

The European Food Safety Authority is to publish shortly its recommendations to consumers in light of growing concerns in the public about bird flu.

The H5N1 strain of avian flu has killed at least 60 people in Asia since 2003.

Humans catch avian flu through close contact with live infected birds.

Birds excrete the virus in their faeces, which dry and become pulverised, and are then inhaled.

Therefore, the people thought to be at risk are those involved in the slaughter and preparation of meat that may be infected.

However, the World Health Organization recommends, to be absolutely safe all meat should be cooked to a temperature of at least 70C. Eggs should also be thoroughly cooked.


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