Consumed by fear

Nina C George, DH News Service Jan 9 2018, 21:12 IST

The outbreak of bird flu in Dasarahalli, near Yelahanka, seems to have taken wings, spreading into panic elsewhere in the city. The sales of chicken and chicken-related products have dipped by almost half in most cold storages.

The effect is being felt by restaurants as well, as there is a plunge in the footfalls over the last few days. People too have refrained from buying and cooking chicken for a few days until the flu fear settles down.

The managers at some of the cold storages say that they have stopped purchasing excess stock of chicken because there is no demand for it. Mubarak, the manager at Sunny Foods in Kalyan Nagar, admits to a dip in the sales in the last one week. "The sale of chicken has reduced by 50 percent. The other meat products such as red meat are moving fast. We are not panicking. We would rather stock and sell good meat rather than push the sales of the existing stock," says Mubarak.

The situation at Lusitania Frozen Foods on Hosur Road isn't very different. Ramesh, manager at the store, confirms that the sale of chicken is down by 30 percent. "Although, the place where we purchase chicken is good and we are sure that we stock only good meat, people are still hesitant to buy it because of the reported cases of bird flu. The chicken that has not been sold will be discarded and not carried on for the next day," says Ramesh.

However, supermarkets such as Nilgiris on Brigade Road, hasn't seen a fall in the sales of chicken. "Most of our frozen meat is imported and the chicken products are sourced from places that have assured quality and service. We continue to have moderate sales and our purchase of stock remains the same," says a salesperson at Nilgiris.

Most restaurants in the city have seen a reduction in the number of customers. Rafeeq Ur Rehman, the owner of 'Dum Biryani' on MG Road, observes that the restaurant is always packed for lunch and dinner but the sales have reduced in the last one week.

"We now don't cook as much as we used to. Our business has dropped by almost 50 percent. We have a rough idea about how many customers turn out and prepare the food accordingly. We are feeling the pinch because our restaurant serves more of chicken and related items. There is really nothing we can do, except wait till the situation normalises," says Rafeeq, rather helplessly.

Those who regularly consume chicken too have compromised and have chosen alternatives like red meat. Shweta Sathyendranath, homemaker, says that she would get messages on WhatsApp about the outbreak of bird flu but she didn't take it too seriously till she read the confirmed news in the papers.

"We have decided to stop eating chicken at least for a month, till the whole issue settles down. Our son loves chicken and we make sure we all have one egg a day but now we have stopped consuming chicken and eggs because of the avian flu," says Shweta.

She says that the family enjoys vegetarian food as much as they enjoy eating non-vegetarian dishes. "We have now begun to experiment with vegetarian dishes and alternative meat products," she says.

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