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Armed forces, Railways drop chicken from menu
Tribune News Service and PTI

New Delhi, February 21
The Railways has decided to take off chicken and egg dishes from its menu and has banned chicken and eggs in any form on trains and stations. Instructions to this effect have been issued to all zonal railways and to Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC).

As per a press note, the decision has been taken in public interest. Bird flu is a highly contagious disease, which is spread by H5N1 virus. The infection occurs through contact with poultry and chances of infection among the catering staff members, handling raw meat and eggs, high, it said.

A close watch was being kept on the progress of the disease in other parts of the country and further orders would be issued depending on the progress of the disease, the Railways added.

Airlines, both domestic and international, have already grounded chicken from their menu. While some airlines have gone completely green, others are serving alternative non-vegetarian options like mutton, fish and prawn.

The country’s biggest private airline, Jet Airways, is serving only vegetarian meals while Air Sahara and Indian have almost turned vegetarian and are serving only mutton dishes. All in-flight food and catering services like Taj Sats, Oberoi Inflight and Ambassador Skychef, which also serve a large number of international carriers, have also dropped chicken from their menu.

Several major restaurants have already decided to cull chicken from their menu. Today, it was also taken off the menu of the Parliament canteen.

The government has also suspended the supply of poultry and its products as part of rations to the personnel of the three services.

A nationwide directive issued by the Directorate-General Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) said till further orders “all fresh consignments of poultry to armed forces be stopped”.

The three services’ high command had also issued strict detailed guidelines to the forces on how to combat the epidemic and instructions to monitor the supplies regularly.

With more than 1.2 million personnel under arms, the Army’s rough consumption runs into 1,20,000 kg of chicken a week and more than 2 million eggs for the same period.

“Chickens and eggs are not being lifted for the past 24 hours and the freeze would remain there till further notice”, a senior Army officer said.

“We have also told the RVC specialised personnel to check all regional suppliers and, in case of doubt, to despatch suspect samples to the high-security Animal Diseases Laboratory in Bhopal”, he said.

Initially, the Army instructions were confined to the Pune-based Southern Army Command, where the bird flu broke out, with units told to hold chicken and egg stocks for three days.

“But with the avian flu spreading, fresh guidelines were issued across the country”, the officer said.

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