There has been a lot of buzz over the past few weeks concerning a major outbreak of Avian Influenza on local poultry farms. It has even become so large of a concern that the Governor has declared a state of emergency. This is an issue which is not necessarily covered in MN food safety certification classes, so we feel that is important to cover this news item before panic spreads throughout the food preparation industry.
What Are the Risks of Avian Influenza Contaminated Poultry Affecting Your Customers?
One of the best places to start to answer the question as to whether the “bird flu” can affect guests who have consumed tainted poultry is to look at the FDA’s take on the subject.
To give you a quick summary, Avian Influenza cannot be spread by consuming properly cooked turkey, chicken, duck or eggs. The most common transfer of bird flu is strictly from bird to bird contact in close quarters. It is possible for the disease to transfer to humans, but only in rare cases where the infected person has come into direct and constant contact with infected birds or their feces.
Even though there is very little chance of passing Avian Influenza on to your customers via prepared food, they will inevitably have their concerns. Here are a few tips on dealing with poultry and alleviating your guests’ qualms concerning the bird flu.
• Always cook poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees
• Wash all surfaces that have come into contact with raw and cooked meat products after use
• Always cook eggs until whites and yolks are firm
• If a recipe calls for undercooked eggs or more than three whole eggs substitute pasteurized eggs for raw shell eggs
These four steps should always be taken under every circumstance, even without the threat of Avian Influenza, but under the circumstances, reminding your staff about proper poultry handling can help alleviate contamination concerns.
The frequency of scares involving our food sources has risen over the past decade. We’d like to know how you educate your staff and customers how to keep food safe when a new scare arises?