Covid-19 Tip#3: Keep Calm (And Eat Chicken)

‘Non-vegetarian food can give you the virus’. Does this sound familiar? This is one of the persistent myths in India associated with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.


Approximately 70 percent of India's population consumes non-vegetarian food / Picture: Traditional South Indian Fish Curry and Rice Meal

NSoJ Bureau with inputs from Justina Eappen (BA '22)

The origins of the virus, while not conclusively proven, are thought to have been transmitted to humans from bats through an intermediary host. Covid-19 as a zoonotic disease transmitted originally from the likely consumption of wild animals has resulted in this myth that has associated Covid-19 with the consumption of livestock and poultry.

This myth has resulted in a substantial decrease in the sales of meat, chicken and eggs, for food consumption in India. The poultry industry of India has been particularly affected. Since early January, the industry has been losing approximately Rs.9 crores per day. The states that are worst affected are Maharashtra, Odisha, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The myths surrounding COVID-19 have resulted in consequences to the poultry industry far worse than that of bird flu in 2006.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have stated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through eating food. However, as a matter of good practices in preparing food, it is recommended that all meats be cooked or heated for at least two minutes at a heat greater than 72°C to any foodborne illnesses.

EFSA’s advice holds true to prevent various foodborne diseases, and is not specific to Covid-19. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has also sought to put an end to the myth by stating that it was safe for people to eat chicken and other non-vegetarian food.

So stay calm, and eat chicken. If you are vegetarian, stay calm and eat veggies. Whatever you eat, make sure you follow proper hand hygiene.

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