Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 44, Tuesday, November 09, 2010




Safe qurbani?

The recent anthrax scare began in Bangladesh with the first detection of the disease in humans on 18 August, 2010. One month later, during the time a red alert was issued by the government, The Daily Star published a news that the sale of red meat plummeted by as much as 92 percent; the number of reported cases had risen to 523 people.

A month later, on 7 October, 2010 the alert was lifted but the fear of the disease still lives in our hearts…

We are now faced with a critical question: is it safe to slaughter, process and eat cattle meat this Eid- ul- Adha?

Caused by the rod-shaped bacteria, Bacillus anthracis, anthrax is considered to be an acute disease. This type of bacteria, like many other types, is able to form dormant spores and survive in harsh conditions for very long periods of time -- even centuries. The victims of this disease are typically herbivores that consume or inhale those spores while grazing.

So how do humans become victims of anthrax? Cutaneous anthrax occurs when the spores enter the skin through an abrasion. Gastronomic tract anthrax is contracted from eating contaminated food, especially meat from an animal that has contracted anthrax. Pulmonary (inhalation) anthrax is caused by breathing in airborne anthrax spores. Luckily, there are effective vaccines and antibiotic treatments are also effective for some forms of the disease.

And the government has been using such measures to free the country from this epidemic. Has it been successful? Yes, according to the government. That's why it eventually lifted the red alert. Abdul Latif Biswas, Minister for Fisheries and Livestock said, “Henceforth, there will be no red alert”. The government claims that it is continuing its efforts to monitor the disease and keep it under control even though the red alert has been lifted.

Taking away the red alert was hoped to better the situation of red meat traders. How do they foresee the demand for cattle this year? Shah Jahan, a cattle breeder planning to sell three of his cows at Gabtoli Haat this Eid, takes an optimistic standpoint. “People are religious; and the anthrax scare is going away slowly. Sales will be normal as always.”

Many traders have agreed with him. Another breeder says, “If I sell ten cows every Eid, I'll sell maybe eight this time. It won't be too bad”. A red meat seller in Mohakhali Bazaar shares his story. “Two months ago, I was forced to shut down my business for some time. Now, things are not back to normal either. But by the time Eid comes, hopefully people will understand that simply eating healthy red meat is not harmful and that not all the cattle in the world are anthrax infected!”

The tendency of the traders, ofcourse, is to blame some people in the broiler industry. “Anthrax is a common disease that occurs in our country almost every year. The chicken traders bribed the media to cause unnecessary fear, so that their businesses would flourish,” opines a red meat seller and butcher at Zigatola Bazaar.

Will this fear stretch till Eid? For some, the answer is yes. Morshed Ali, an employee in a local firm, says that he is not willing to take any risks. “God will understand”, he believes. Most of these people are planning to give the money to charity instead.

“I usually get a cow for about Tk 60,000. This year, I'm simply donating this amount to an orphanage”, says another.

On the other hand, a lot of people are not bothered by it. “All you need to do is take proper precautions in handling the meat”, suggests Wali, a corporate jobholder. But a huge number of people are still in a state of confusion.

So what exactly should be done? Dr Md Motahar Hossain, a veterinarian, gives the green signal. “There's no fear”, he said when asked whether people should perform Qurbani or not. “Simply don't buy a cow that is anthrax infected”, he adds.

In the market, when looking for the right animal to buy, check the behaviour of the animals. Anthrax infected cattle act a bit abnormally. This is mainly because of the fever. They'll be weak and their hair will be erect. The cattle may show difficulty in breathing and are likely to have uncoordinated movements. “An anthrax infected cow is easily identifiable”, he said. Therefore, your first measure of safety from anthrax should take place right in the market.

And that should be the last stage too. If you simply don't buy a sick cow, you have no fear of getting anthrax.

But still, let's move on. Let's say, after you have bought the cow (or any other cattle), you are having second thoughts. A tinge of fear is still there. The cow seems weak. Then what do you do? “You check the temperature of the animal”, suggests the vet. Get a butcher or someone who knows how to handle cattle well to insert a thermometer in the rectum. A cattle's normal temperature ranges within 100-104 Fahrenheit approximately. Check if it has fever. If it does, then seek help from an expert.

But if your animal looks fine, then all's good. Make the Qurbani free of worries. But do the people handling meat need to wear gloves? And should the remains be buried very deep underground? “If you know that your animal did not suffer from anthrax, why do you need these extra precautions?” the vet questions back. Indeed, if the animal is suffering from anthrax, you won't slaughter in the first place. After all, why would you even perform the Qurbani with a sick animal? But still, burying the remains deep down (about eight feet under) is not a bad idea.

Finally, is it safe to eat the meat? Ofcourse it is! Afterall, you have checked that the animal did not suffer from anthrax! Then why fear?

Therefore, there is no reason not to buy cattle this Eid. If you are thinking of alternative ways such as giving the money to charity, stop thinking. When an Imam of a mosque was asked what kinds of alternatives are available, or whether there can be an alternative at all, he said that this is not necessary given the situation. “Had there been a case, where for example, the government itself banned the slaughtering or consumption of cattle, then things would have been different. But such is not the case now,” he said.

Don't refrain yourself from Qurbani this Eid. Don't be fearful. But be very careful. Just take all the precautions necessary. Have a safe Eid!

By M H Haider

Eating out

Soi 71

To create the perfect ambiance for the restaurant, designers have aptly used the concept of the four elements -- earth, wind, fire and water. As one enters Soi 71, the foyer welcomes you with the soothing sounds of a mountainous stream, recreated through an artificial spring. Standing at the entrance, the Main Hall lies straight ahead; the café on the right and the children's zone on the left, which through veneered stairs lead downstairs to "Soi Underground."

There you find two private rooms; each equipped with large screen TVs and a karaoke with over 5000 songs -- from timeless Sinatra numbers to latest hip party beats.

Soi 71 started in June 2010 and is the brainchild of Nashra Yusuf Sakhawat and Azizur Chowdhury. The couple shares a fascination for Thai food. "Through our numerous visits to Bangkok we have been exposed to the rich culinary tradition of Thailand and we simply had to open up a restaurant here in Dhaka," said Nashra.

"People in Bangladesh are familiar with the taste of Thai. And when we served authentic dishes, our popularity spread across the town through word of mouth"

The recipe for their success is simple. They have two leading chefs brought from Thailand. "Purists to the core," the owner chuckles. The two sous chefs, also traditionalists, are stringent when it comes to maintaining the quality of the food. All herbs used are home grown, and nothing is refrigerated. "It's all organic," Nashra added. "The fresh herbs and the spices used imbibe a rich texture and a spicy taste to the food prepared.”

However, at "Soi Kids" they serve food sans the signature Thai spice, but authentic nevertheless. "Above all we try to maintain standard hygienic standards, regularly monitored by the chefs in-charge and the owners themselves.”

They have 71 different dishes on the a la carte menu; along with some Chef's Specials. "The fish served at Soi 71 are all supplied fresh by traders everyday."

So, if you are currently craving a "Squid With Basil Leaf", the one you had in your last visit to Phuket, pay a visit to "Soi 71", aptly situated at Road 71 ("Soi" means road), House NE(B) 1/B, Gulshan 2. Dhaka. #8821806. Nashra@soi71.net.

-LS desk

Whitehen Fried Chicken

Australian restaurant Whitehen Fried Chicken started its journey this Friday, 5 November, 2010. The restaurant was inaugurated by Australian High Commissioner Dr. Justin Lee. The food consultant of Whitehen Fried Chicken (WFC) was also present in the ceremony.

The restaurant has been designed with compliance to international standards, whilst making a successful effort to make the place both artistic as well as entertaining. Regarding the quality of food, W.F.C.'s food consultant said, “Every item is prepared maintaining 100% Australian standards…” Another attractive factor is that the restaurant is Wi-Fi enabled.

The restaurant offers a wide range of delights to satisfy your pallet. Try their Crispy Combo, Real Burger, Aussi-Salad or their Aussi's Strip Meal. Go with their strawberry sundae, chocolate sundae or coffee for dessert. The restaurant is located at 98 Bir Uttam C R Dutta Road, Hatirpool, just beside Hamdard Bhaban. To know more, contact 9614942, 01927340610.

By M H Haider


Dia Asiana fusion fashion show

The 6th of November saw an event of seldom precedence, in the form of a fusion fashion show, hosted in the city's Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel. The event, titled 'A Social Business, A Social Cause, A Social Night', involved the showcasing of many a well-known brand, including both local and international designers such as eminent singer-turned-designer Runa Laila, Tootli Rahman, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Armani, Satya Paul, Manish Malhotra and jewellery from Gitanjali Lifestyle.

Adding variety to the show, twelve international artists were flown in from the UK to put together a diverse dance and musical evening, with performances from a wide range of genres such as break dancing, Arabic belly dancing and a Spanish dance routine.

Interlaced between each dance were catwalks displaying lines from different designers, and first up on the ramp was Tootli Rahman's serene and elegant collection. Emphasis was paid on white hues in different materials and embellishments, including classic white-on-white jamdanis worn ek payche and sophisticated muslins in floral motifs that were handsomely accessorised by parasols, floral arm and wrist-bands, wide-brimmed hats and leafy purses.

Runa Laila's line, in contrast, consisted of slightly heavier materials just as it did brighter colours and richer embellishments. Her personal preference for deep-toned outfits, glittering adornments and solid textures was reflected in all three lines of shalwar kameez sets, fatuas and saris; with her collection including colours such as maroon, bottle green, golden, royal blue and hot pink and embellishments such as stonework, zari, benarasee borders and sequins.

During the show's itinerary, the guests present were served an elaborate four-course dinner and throughout the evening, brief speeches were made by various speakers highlighting the noble cause for the evening. The show was organised to promote two of the late Nasrine Rasheed Karim's endeavours, co-founder of Dia ASIANA magazine and founder of the Noor-e-Farid Nasrine Academy in Comilla. The latter, an orphanage project, was what Karim, who had long been working in the development sector on education and arsenic contamination through the NGO-Earth Identity Project, wished to concentrate her efforts on before her demise earlier this year.

In addition to the fashion, cultural and charity aspects, the evening of the 6th also saw the relaunching of the Dia ASIANA magazine and all proceeds from the show and the magazine will be donated to Mrs Karim's academy.

By Subhi Shama Reehu




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