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Beef, dairy test negative for bird flu despite recent 9-state outbreak

Officials are confident that the nation's meat and dairy supplies are safe.
Ground Beef is on display in a market
Posted at 5:29 AM, May 02, 2024

Despite a recent bird flu outbreak among cattle, government agencies have found no samples of the virus in dairy and beef products sold on store shelves.

Government agencies say the tests show efforts to keep the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza out of the nation's food supply are working.

Weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the virus made cows in several states sick. By the end of April, bird flu infections were reported from dairy herds in nine U.S. states.

In response to the outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration and the USDA have monitored the food supply to ensure food safety. In an update provided by the FDA on Wednesday, the agency said preliminary testing did not detect any live, infectious virus in nearly 300 dairy products tested.

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The tests included cottage cheese and sour cream, and fluid milk. The FDA also said tests of retail powdered infant formula and powdered milk products marketed as toddler formula came back negative for the virus.

The FDA said it is also studying pasteurization's role in eliminating the virus from cow's milk. The agency continues to advise the public not to consume raw milk products. Officials say pasteurization is a critical safeguard in ensuring dairy remains safe to consume.

Meanwhile, the USDA said it collected 30 samples of ground beef from stores in states where the virus was reported in cattle. Those samples came back negative.

The agency continues to remind the public to handle beef properly and cook it to a proper internal temperature to ensure viruses and bacteria are killed off.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said bird flu cases among humans are rare. The CDC says the virus can cause mild to severe flu-like symptoms among humans.