Restaurants ready to tout poultry's safety

KANSAS - Federal food safety officials say fears of a worldwide bird-flu outbreak won't stop them from feasting on Thanksgiving turkey because cooked fowl is safe to eat.

Even so, several fast-food chains, keenly aware that a possible flu pandemic might affect some appetites, are taking steps to reassure Americans that it's safe to eat their chicken.

Bird flu has been detected in poultry flocks in Asia and Eastern Europe but hasn't shown up in U.S. farms. Even if it did, "No human cases of avian influenza have been confirmed from eating properly prepared poultry," said Richard Raymond, the undersecretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cooking is the key, Raymond said, because the heat kills any infection.

"A high enough temperature will destroy bacteria and viruses in poultry products," he said.

Whole birds, legs, thighs and wings should be cooked so that the internal temperature is at least 185 degrees Fahrenheit, he said.

Avian flu -- also known as bird flu -- is primarily an animal disease circulating in birds in Asia and Eastern Europe. In its current form, it spreads from birds to people -- 130 people have been infected and 67 have died -- but it doesn't spread easily from human to human. There have been no reported cases of avian flu in people or birds in the United States.

In case the disease spreads to U.S. poultry flocks, KFC -- the chicken chain -- will be ready with a media campaign designed to reassure consumers that their food won't be affected, said Jonathan Blum, a senior vice president of Yum! Brands Inc., parent of the KFC chain.

Source: Wichita Eagle
calendar icon 23 November 2005
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