Union Ministry of Animal Husbandry on Monday clarified that chicken may be considered safe as no report has so far confirmed its involvement in novel coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed over 900 lives in China.

Animal Husbandry Commissioner Praveen Malik in a letter to Vijay Sardana, Advisor, Poultry Federation of India, said that poultry was not found to be involved in the transmission of 2019 nCov to humans in any report globally.

Malik was responding to an email sent by Sardana seeking clarification on the issue of livestock product consumption vis-a-vis 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV).

The government’s move to seek clarification on the matter comes at a time when rumours circulating on social media about broiler chicken being infected with coronavirus gained momentum.

The Animal Husbandry Commissioner said, “In this context, this is to clarify that the predominant route of transmission of 2019 nCoV, appears to be human to human, as per World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) though 2019 nCoV may not have had an animal source, which requires further investigation.”

“Poultry has not been found to be involved in the transmission of 2019 nCov to humans so far in any report globally,” he added.

The letter also mentioned that similar viral outbreaks of coronavirus in past (SARS 2002-03, MERS 2012-13) or corona-associated common cold had no involvement of poultry and poultry products world over.

“Thus, with knowledge of present affairs of 2019 nCoV, consumption of poultry and poultry products may be considered safe. The general principles of hygiene, however, may be followed as per the suggestions of World Health Organisation (WHO) or OIE.

(With input from agencies)