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Avian Flu And The Food Service Industry: Implications And Assessment.

2090 words - 8 pages

OverviewIf there is one buzzword doing the round these days, and which serves as a grim reminder to the 1918 flu pandemic, it is the looming threat of the new Avian flu virus. According to Brian Handwerk in his column for the National Geographic News, scientists have managed to reconstruct the genetic code of the deadly 1918 Spanish Flu and have come out with a startling conclusion, namely that the 1918 virus strain developed in birds then are similar to the bird flu today causing fears of another worldwide epidemic. There are many schools of thought countering the claims that Avian flu could be the next "big thing" and that scientists are overreacting to the bird flu , especially since only under 200 people have died so far as compared to the millions of birds of birds and most of all, mainly in East and South East Asia. Health care professionals however have a lot of concerns about Avian Flu since it has an extremely high mortality rate and the fact that there is no vaccine for the virus in addition to developing a resistance to the few drugs that can limit its severity. While there were isolated cases of the virus mutating and entering the human system primarily in Vietnam, Indonesia and China, the past few months have posed a chilling reminder that this dreaded virus is rapidly gaining ground and attacking the human immune system around the world as well. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in an in-depth news coverage of the avian flu has traced its course from Asia to Europe, with Holland and especially Turkey reporting a spurt in human deaths related to this deadly flu. According to CBC sources, as of January 6th 2006 there have been more than four cases reported with two deaths confirmed.North American PerspectiveWhile so far the questions raised have pertained to the "if", the United Nations feels it is just a matter of time before the virus spills into Europe and Africa in spring. It is possible to try and contain the passage of poultry and people into North America, but the biggest challenge will be trying to contain the virus coming to this continent because of the migration of birds en masse from Asia and Europe. This would indeed pose a serious problem to not only the Government to handle the situation on a war footing, but also the food habits of the public. In the face of massive public awareness on the danger posed by foot and mouth disease, mad cow disease and now avian flu, food service operators, including restaurant/ hotel operations, catering establishments, hospital kitchens superstores and in general anyone dealing in food service industry will have to raise the level of awareness about this virus. One of the most asked questions pertains to whether chicken can be consumed. According to the Food and Agricultural association of the United Nations, cooking kills the virus and thus technically eating a chicken even from an outbreak zone is just as safe. However the processing of the raw materials would require proper...

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