U.S – In response to the recent outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in dairy cows across multiple states, the U.S. government has announced plans to enhance monitoring efforts, particularly within the beef and dairy sectors.

Federal agencies aim to verify the safety of beef and milk products amid concerns over the spread of the H5N1 virus.

Since late March, 34 dairy cattle herds in nine states have tested positive for the H5N1 virus, alongside a reported human case in Texas.

While health authorities have highlighted the overall low public health risk associated with these incidents, individuals exposed to infected animals may face heightened vulnerability.

Despite the outbreaks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains confident in the safety of the meat supply chain. Rigorous meat inspection processes, including the presence of veterinarians at federal livestock slaughter facilities, are in place to uphold safety standards.

Recent findings of virus fragments in pasteurized milk samples have prompted further investigations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in collaboration with USDA, CDC, and state partners.

While initial tests raised concerns, officials emphasize that pasteurization effectively mitigates risks, ensuring the safety of store-bought milk.

Enhanced testing protocols

To bolster consumer confidence, the USDA will initiate testing of ground beef in states affected by bird flu outbreaks in dairy cows. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will analyze samples thoroughly to detect any viral particles.

Additionally, studies on the safety of ground beef processing and cooking temperatures will be conducted to mitigate potential risks.

The USDA reiterates the efficacy of pasteurization in eliminating harmful bacteria and viruses from milk, emphasizing its role in ensuring public health. Even in cases where the virus may be present in unpasteurized milk, the process is expected to render it safe for consumption.

In light of these developments, Barbara Kowalcyk, an associate professor of exercise and nutrition sciences, advises caution regarding food consumption. Individuals are urged to avoid unpasteurized milk, raw meats, and undercooked foods to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.