Food Safety Regulators in the US are Increasing their Testing for Bird Flu in Milk Products

Due to the growing number of outbreaks among dairy herds nationwide, the FDA is now conducting increased testing on dairy products for signs of bird flu in milk products.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 120 dairy herds in 12 states have been confirmed with bird flu since March. Federal authorities have informed that if the virus continues to spread among dairy cows, it could increase the chances of human infections.

Federal officials have stated that the risk of bird flu to the public remains minimal. However, the risk is slightly elevated for dairy farm workers, and they are advised to wear personal protective equipment to minimize the chances of contracting the infection.

During a call with reporters, Don Prater, the acting director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, stated that the main objective of conducting further tests on 155 products is to confirm that pasteurization effectively deactivates the virus.

According to Prater, the FDA’s previous examination of 297 dairy samples from retail stores found no traces of the virus. However, the agency still strongly discourages the consumption of raw milk products.

During the press call, Demetre Daskalakis, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, reported that over 690 individuals who had come into contact with infected or potentially infected animals have been under observation for flu symptoms. Additionally, 51 people who exhibited flu-like symptoms have undergone testing.

Bird Flu in Milk Products, FDA Increased Testing

Daskalakis stated that the CDC is assisting Michigan in conducting serological testing on farm workers to detect past virus infections, and will also help facilitate testing in other states.

Deeble stated that the USDA is researching how dairy cattle can become infected with the virus by coming into contact with contaminated milk or respiratory droplets.

According to Deeble, the process of creating a bird flu vaccine for dairy cows will require a significant amount of time. The agency’s objective is to eliminate the virus in dairy cattle without relying on a vaccine.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack informed Reuters on June 12 that the agency is currently engaged in discussions with twenty-four companies regarding the development of a bird flu vaccine specifically for cattle.


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