Delhi municipal corporations ban chicken and eggs in light of the bird flu

In Delhi, as the bird flu scare emerges, the three municipal corporations have decided to ban the selling of eggs apart from life or saw chicken meat and processed or packed poultry products. This will remain in place indefinitely, until further notice.

The ban will cause a heavy blow to the poultry industry, restaurants, small eateries which include dhabas and roadside shops where eggs are a major item. Bakers are affected as well because they have constraint their operations.

Medical health official of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Ashok Rawat, said, ” In view of confirmed bird flu cases in 10 states, including Delhi, the civic agency has prohibited keeping live poultry birds, sale and purchase of poultry meat, besides eggs, at shops and restaurants. Also, processing and packaging units anywhere in the jurisdiction of the civic body are banned with immediate effect.”

The civic agencies have threatened strict action against those who violate the ban. This penalty includes cancellation of license. The agents will visit shops that deal in poultry at random to keep the rules in check. A North Delhi Municipal Corporation official said, “Even online selling of checking and related items won’t be allowed.” Along with this, owners of restaurants and small eaters have been warned to not serve food that contains poultry meat and eggs.

East Delhi Municipal Corporation mayor Nirmal Jain, said, “In the interest of public health and safety, vigilance has been increased in our area. If the order is violated, action will be taken by veterinary officials of the zones and the meat trade license will be cancelled.”

The corporations have asked Delhi residents to take serious precautions while feeding birds. Jai Prakash, north corporation mayor said, “We have requested the public not to touch dead birds and wear masks and gloves while feeding birds.”

The Delhi government had earlier halted the import of live chicken into the city. They also shut down the Ghazipur poultry market. Further, they stopped packaged or processed chicken from outside the city.

Rohit Aggarwal, director of Lite Bite Foods which has 25 outlets and several cloud kitchens in NCR, said, “Just as we were emerging from the impact of COVID-19, news of the bird flu came in and people started avoiding chicken and eggs despite all precautions we were taking. This has impacted our sales.” He continued, “A complete ban will further hamper our business as the chicken is the most ordered meat at our Indian restaurants, Punjab Grill and Street Food by Punjab Grill. The ban on eggs is another big blow as it is used in a lot of preparations. Sale of fish mutton dishes though has picked up at our Asian restaurant, ‘You Mee’ and other outlets.”

On the other hand, bakeries are hastily struggling to get a new menu. Saurabh Khanna, executive assistant manager of The Lodhi, said, “We are changing our bakery items quickly as most droughts contain egg and bakery items are very popular for breakfast. Omelettes too are a major draw.”

Although the Ghazipur poultry market union and shopkeepers believe this is the right step as the poultry is shut and the chicken was being sold outside in unhygienic conditions. Mohammad Zahid, a chicken seller said that they were facing losses because allowing others to sell chicken without any rules was unfair. The union requests the government to rethink their decision as some samples of chicken taken from the poultry had tested negative.

Haji Salahuddin Qureshi, president of the wholesale poultry association and market, said, “Banning sale of chicken, processed meat and eggs will only lead to more losses for the trade and the entire chain of people involved in the process. There is nothing wrong with eating eggs or chicken which are boiled at a certain temperature. The minister of animal husbandry and dairying, Girraj Singh, had said that to the media, “With the market shut and now a ban on the sale of chicken and eggs, mutton prices will shoot up.”

Qureshi claimed that they were taking various measures to make poultry safe again. He said, “We are eating chicken at home and it is completely safe. Even the farms from where the chicken is procured carry out checks thoroughly and here doctors do so.”

Three helplines numbers have been launched by the corporations to answer any question about the bird flu. Residents can call 011-23890318 if they observe signs of sickness or any unnatural death of birds in their locality. In east Delhi, they can contact 155303 for assistance.

A North Delhi Municipal Corporation official, said, “Taking note of increasing queries and panic calls at the zonal offices and call centres regarding bird deaths and related information, we have launched a helpline number which will answer these queries. We have also formed teams in each zone, which include staff from the veterinary department, to attend to complaints of the sudden death of birds.”

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