Could the Filipino delicacy balot pose a bird flu threat?

30 October 2005



Here in the Philippines we have a delicacy called a balot. This is a half incubated duck chick. The fully shelled chick is cooked in boiling water, cracked open and eaten with vinegar and salt. It's really tasty. What concerns me is the rising incidence of bird flu. Is there a chance that my balots might be infected too, or are they sterile?


Although there's evidence that the bird flu virus can spread around the body of the birds that it infects, there's not any evidence to show that it can get inside eggs, but it does come out the intestines. So it's possible that the outside of the egg could get infected with some virus particles, and if you ate it raw, you could potentially contaminate things. But if you cook it properly, such as along the lines that you're suggesting, it will be fine because flu is just a bag of genes, or protein containing genetic material. If you heat that up properly, it should just fall apart and neutralise it. I don't actually think that there's any risk to your health and you can go on enjoying your balot with no problems at all.


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