Are milk and eggs safe to eat during this bird flu outbreak?

An outbreak of avian flu among dairy cows in the United States has spread to affect more than two dozen herds in eight states, just weeks after the nation’s largest egg producer discovered the virus at his chickens.

Health officials emphasize that the risk to the public is low and that the U.S. food supply remains safe and stable.

“At this time, there is no concern that this circumstance poses a health risk to consumers or affects the security of the commercial interstate milk supply,” Food said. and Drug Administration in a statement.

Here’s what you need to know about bird flu and diet:


Since Friday, the tension of bird flu which has killed millions of wild birds in recent years has been found in at least 26 dairy herds in eight American states: Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and South Dakota.

The virus, known as type A H5N1, was detected in a range of mammals in recent years, but this is the first time it has been found in cattle, according to federal health and animal agencies. Genetic analysis of the virus does not show it has changed to spread more easily in humans, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.


Agriculture officials in at least 17 states have restricted imports of dairy cattle from states where the virus has been detected, but, so far, government agencies say it has had little effect on commercial milk production. Officials believe the cows were likely infected through exposure to wild birds, but indicated cow-to-cow spread. “Cannot be excluded.”

Farmers test cows that show symptoms of infection, including severely reduced milk production and lethargy. Animals that show signs or test positive are separated from other farm animals. The animals seem to recover within two weeks.

US egg producers are closely monitoring the situation following the outbreak of bird flu. detected in chickens in Texas and Michigan. Millions of birds were killed, but the The FDA said The risk of affected eggs entering the retail market or causing infections in humans is low due to federal inspections and other protective measures.


Scientists say there is no evidence to suggest people can contract the virus by consuming pasteurized, heat-treated or properly cooked foods.

“This is not a food safety issue,” said Lee-Ann Jaykus, a food microbiologist and virologist emeritus at North Carolina State University.

Two people in the United States have been infected with bird flu so far. A dairy worker from Texas who had close contact with an infected cow recently developed a mild eye infection and recovered. In 2022, an inmate on a work program I caught it by killing infected birds on a Colorado poultry farm. His only symptom was fatigue and he recovered.


Yes, according to food safety experts and government officials.

American producers are prohibited from selling milk from sick cows and must divert and destroy it. Additionally, milk sold across state lines must be pasteurized or heat-treated using a process that kills bacteria and viruses, including the flu.

“We strongly believe that pasteurization provides a safe milk supply,” Tracey Forfa, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said during a webinar this week.


The FDA and CDC are less certain about unpasteurized or raw milk sold in many states, saying there is little information about possible transmission of the H5N1 virus in these products.

So far, no herds linked to raw milk suppliers have reported cows infected with avian flu, but the agencies recommend that the industry not manufacture or sell raw milk or raw milk cheese products to based on milk from cows showing symptoms or exposed to infected viruses. cows.

U.S. health officials have long warned of the risk of foodborne illnesses linked to raw milk, which the CDC says has caused more than 200 homes which sickened more than 2,600 people between 1998 and 2018.

Still, raw milk advocates like Mark McAfee, owner of Raw Farm USA in Fresno, Calif., said the H5N1 outbreak in commercial cows appears to have boosted sales of these products, despite federal warnings.


So far, only dairy cows, not beef cattle, have been infected or shown signs of illness, agriculture officials said.

The largest egg producer in the United States temporarily halted operations on April 2 after discovering bird flu in its chickens. Cal-Maine Foods culled approximately 1.6 million laying hens and an additional 337,000 pullets, or young hens, after the detection.

The company said there was no risk to eggs on the market and no eggs had been recalled.

Properly handled and well-cooked eggs are safe to eat, said Barbara Kowalcyk, director of the Center for Food Safety and Nutrition Security at George Washington University.

“A lot of people like runny eggs. Personally, if I eat an egg, it’s cooked very well,” she says.

Kowalcyk and others nevertheless warned that the situation could change.

“This is an emerging problem and it’s clear that this pathogen is evolving and there’s a lot we don’t know,” she said. “I think everyone is trying to figure it out as quickly as possible.”


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Education Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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