Confirmed: No Bird Flu in Pasteurized Dairy Products, Federal Tests Reveal

Pasteurized Dairy Foods Free of Live Bird Flu, Federal Tests Confirm

Extensive Testing Reveals No Live Bird Flu Virus in Pasteurized Dairy

Recent tests of retail dairy products, sourced from across the nation, have revealed no traces of the live bird flu virus. This finding fortifies the belief that pasteurization is effectively safeguarding consumers from this threat, federal health and agriculture officials confirmed in a press briefing held on Wednesday.

Unveiling the Impact of Bird Flu on Dairy Herds

Uncertainty still looms over the impact of the bird flu outbreak on cattle, as dairy herds are not routinely screened for the infection. This lack of routine testing has raised concerns among scientists and experts in the field.

Undetected Human Infections: A Rising Concern

Just a single human infection, which was mild, has been reported to date. This was in a dairy worker in Texas who had direct contact with infected cows. Scientists, however, worry about the possibility of a large number of undetected infections, particularly among farm workers.

Testing for Bird Flu Receives Federal Attention

So far, only two dozen people have been tested for bird flu, according to federal officials. Despite this, there have been no unusual spikes in flu cases in areas with infected cows.

Worker Testing Not Mandatory on Farms

Dr. Keith Poulsen, director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, has pointed out that farms are not obligated to test their employees. Many of these workers are migrant workers who are reticent to cooperate with state health officials.

Public Threat from Potentially Tainted Dairy Products

Until last week, potentially tainted dairy products were perceived to be the most immediate threat to the public. Federal regulators last week announced initial test results of about 95 retail milk samples, with approximately one in five found to contain genetic fragments of the virus. However, health officials reassured the public that this does not pose a threat to consumers.

Relief as Advanced Testing Finds No Live Virus

More advanced testing later in the week revealed no live virus in the samples, providing a sigh of relief to federal regulators. On Wednesday, Dr. Donald A. Prater, the acting director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the Food and Drug Administration, announced that federal scientists had examined an additional 201 commercial dairy samples, which included milk, cottage cheese, and sour cream.

Raw Dairy Products Still Pose Potential Risk

Dr. Prater advised against the consumption of raw, unpasteurized dairy products. Federal scientists are still evaluating data on whether the virus in raw milk could be infectious.

Outbreak Spreads to Several States, Testing Criticized

As of Wednesday, the outbreak had spread to 36 herds in nine states, according to the Department of Agriculture. The Biden administration has faced criticism from scientists for not conducting more animal testing to determine the outbreak’s scope.

Unreported Cases: An Unveiled Threat

“There’s a lot of farms out there that are not reporting,” Dr. Poulsen, the Wisconsin expert, said. “They’re not reporting because they’re really afraid of what would happen if they’re not negative.”

USDA Attention Shifts to Meat Amid Bird Flu Outbreak

Colombia last week became the first country to ban beef and beef products from certain U.S. states due to the bird flu outbreak. Dr. José Emilio Esteban, a senior food safety official at the U.S.D.A., reassured that beef was safe to eat, but revealed that the agency was conducting three studies to enhance scientific knowledge.

Addressing the Fear of Bird Flu Adapting to Mammals

Underlying the concern about the cattle outbreak is a fear among scientists that the bird flu virus is adapting to mammals. Dr. Sifford said at the briefing that federal scientists had not detected any changes in the virus that would allow it to spread more easily between humans.

Monitoring and Testing Continues Amidst Uncertainty

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, a senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted that only around 25 people had been tested for infection, with over 100 people currently being monitored for symptoms.

As the scientific community and federal agencies continue to grapple with the bird flu outbreak, the findings from these ongoing investigations will remain crucial in shaping public health responses and ensuring the safety of both the public and the agricultural industry.