three black and white cowsPhoto by Matthias Zomer

In a recent development, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disclosed that remnants of the bird flu virus were detected in samples of pasteurized milk sourced from dairy cows. While the FDA emphasized that the virus material is inactivated and poses no risk to consumers, ongoing studies are being conducted to further understand the issue.

This revelation follows the detection of avian influenza virus in dairy cows across eight states last month, affecting 33 herds thus far. However, officials clarified that milk from affected cattle does not enter the commercial supply chain and is instead diverted and destroyed as per federal regulations.

The FDA utilized PCR lab tests to detect viral genetic material in milk samples, even after pasteurization. Despite the detection, there is no evidence to suggest infectious virus presence, according to FDA statements.

Given the evolving nature of the situation, no definitive studies on the effects of pasteurization on the virus have been completed. However, past research indicates that pasteurization is likely to inactivate heat-sensitive viruses like H5N1.

Matt Herrick of the International Dairy Foods Association reassured consumers that time and temperature regulations for pasteurization ensure the safety of the commercial milk supply, emphasizing that remnants of the virus have no impact on human health.

While the H5N1 virus has been confirmed in dairy cows, most infected cattle recover within two weeks, contrasting its lethality in commercial poultry. To date, only two human cases of bird flu have been reported in the U.S., both exhibiting mild symptoms and recovering fully.

As the situation unfolds, ongoing research and monitoring by regulatory agencies remain crucial in safeguarding public health and ensuring the safety of the food supply chain.


Remnants of bird flu virus found in pasteurized milk, FDA says (

By Donovan Adkisson

Editor in Chief of Tifton Talks | Managing Director of Tifton Media Works, LLC

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