Bird flu and food

You can still eat all types of poultry and poultry products during an outbreak of bird flu. But, as always, it's important to make sure that you cook them properly.

Bird flu cannot be passed on to humans through eating poultry products. It can only be caught by coming into close contact with infected birds and their droppings.

There is no risk to your health from eating properly cooked poultry (chicken, duck, turkey and goose) and poultry products, such as eggs, during an outbreak. Cooking these foods thoroughly will kill all bacteria and viruses.

Cooking advice
It’s important to always practice good hygiene when cooking poultry or meat.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water before and after handling any poultry or meat. Use one set of utensils for raw meat and another set for cooked.

Learn more about food hygiene.

Check that the meat is cooked through and piping hot before you serve it. It should be cooked to the point where the juices run clear and there is no more raw, red meat.

Never eat raw eggs. Eggs should be cooked until the white and yolk are solid.

Find out more about cooking eggs.

If you have any leftover poultry that you want to eat later, allow it to cool down completely before you put it in the fridge.

Always use the leftovers within the first two days of cooking.

If you reheat the poultry, the middle should be piping hot. Never reheat it more than once.

Cooking times
If you’re cooking a whole bird such as a turkey, preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4). Some ovens might cook the bird more quickly, so you should check the manufacturer's handbook if you can, but as a general guide the cooking times are as follows:

  • for a turkey that weighs less than 4.5kg, allow 45 minutes per kg plus an extra 20 minutes
  • for a turkey that weighs between 4.5kg and 6.5kg, allow 40 minutes per kg
  • for a turkey that weighs more than 6.5kg, allow 35 minutes per kg

Some ovens might cook the bird more quickly, so check the manufacturer's handbook if you can.

Pierce the thickest part of the bird to check for any red meat. If any of the meat is still red, allow it to cook for longer. Always make sure the juices are clear before you serve it.

Vaccinated birds
During an outbreak of bird flu some farmers might choose to vaccinate their birds.

The vaccines are given to the birds to protect them against bird flu and don't pose a risk to human health.

You are able to eat birds that have been vaccinated – simply follow all the usual hygiene and cooking practices.

Page last reviewed: 22/10/2012

Next review due: 22/10/2014


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