Picture: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

Cape Town - Messages doing the rounds on WhatsApp, claiming that a local retailer has pulled egg stocks from its shelves due to a 'swine' flu outbreak has been confirmed as a hoax, said the City of Cape Town.

"We can confirm that the message is a hoax and would like to reassure the public that there is no risk to humans associated with consumption of eggs or chicken," said City Health in a statement.

The message mentions swine flu instead of avian flu H5N8. 

An example of such a hoax message is the following: "Important notice.. (Retailer) in vangate mall took thier eggs of the shelves.its reported the swine flu virus was found in the eggs.so please people avoid eggs and chicken all together and spread this message as far as possible you could safe a life.wheather you choose to believe it or not rather safe than sorry..pass on please"

Environmental Health Practitioners have verified that the retailer has run out of eggs due to a shortage of stocks, and not an outbreak.

"The City urges the public to refrain from distributing this and other potential hoax messages as it could cause unnecessary panic and dissemination of misinformation, but also result in reputational harm to companies or organisations."

The City’s Environmental Health Services can be contacted on 0860 103 089 if there are any enquiries or concerns with regards to food safety.

Earlier this week, it has been reported that about 70% of the eggs in the Western Cape are gone as result of the highly pathogenic avian flu. 

Over 2 million birds have died and there are 36 confirmed cases in the province.