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Avian influenza case in Germany: infections from eating poultry meat?
After the current bird flu case in Germany, fear has spread that it could be dangerous to eat poultry meat or eggs. But is it really possible to get infected by eating such foods?
A few days ago, the avian influenza agent H5N8 was found in a dead wild bird (black goose) in Brandenburg. The find is currently the first case in Germany that has been verified by a laboratory and is officially known, reports the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Integration and Consumer Protection of the State of Brandenburg (MSGIV) in a statement. So can eating poultry and eggs be dangerous?
Transmission of the pathogen via food is unlikely
As the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) writes in a current communication, transmission of the pathogen via food to humans is unlikely based on current scientific knowledge.
In the past, direct transmission to infected live poultry was almost exclusively responsible for the transmission of other avian influenza viruses from birds to humans.
According to the BfR, there is as yet no evidence of the possibility of human infection from raw eggs or raw sausage products with poultry meat from infected animals.
Comply with hygiene rules
Nevertheless, when handling and preparing raw poultry meat and poultry meat products, attention should always be paid to compliance with hygiene rules, also with regard to other pathogens that may be present.
According to the BfR, the following general hygiene regulations apply:
- Store and prepare raw poultry products and other foods separately, especially if the latter is not reheated.
- Thoroughly clean equipment and surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry products with warm water and detergent additive.
- Dispose of packaging materials, thawing water and the like immediately.
- Wash hands with warm water and soap.
- Always cook poultry dishes thoroughly. This means that a core temperature of 70 degrees Celsius must be reached for at least two minutes.
- Eggs should be boiled before consumption until the egg whites and egg yolks are firm, i.e. for at least six minutes, depending on the size.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.