05 February 2007, 14:59 PM
  • With tests confirming that the avian flu which killed 2600 turkeys at a Suffok farm is the H5N1 virus, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is advising consumers not to panic.

The FSA is assuring that avian flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers and The World Health Organization (WHO) is advising that in areas free from the disease, poultry and poultry products can be prepared and eaten as usual (following good hygiene practice and proper cooking), with no fear of acquiring infection.

Like the WHO, the FSA advises proper handling during food preparation. When dealing with raw poultry, the person involved in the food preparation should wash their hands thoroughly and clean surfaces and utensils in contact with the poultry products. Soap and hot water are sufficient for this purpose.

In countries where avian flu is present in poultry, the virus may be present in meat and eggs from affected birds. Controls in place are intended to stop the spread of the disease. Even if the virus is present in meat or eggs, several factors will contribute to preventing or limiting its effects on people. First, the virus is easily killed by cooking. Second, even if it is still present after cooking, the virus is destroyed by saliva and by gastric acid, as well as the fact that there are very few receptors the virus needs to enter the body in the gut.