US Academic Stresses Bird Flu Does Not Affect Food Safety

US - An Iowa State University food safety expert has reminded consumers that avian influenza does not impact the foods they eat.
calendar icon 22 April 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension specialist in food safety, said: “Consumers should feel safe to eat properly cooked and prepared meat and eggs from poultry.”

Bird flu has been spreading in the US, and last week avian influenza was reported for the first time in Iowa at a turkey barn in Buena Vista County.

The disease is caused by an influenza virus that can infect farmed poultry, and is also carried by migratory birds such as ducks, geese and shorebirds.

Although humans can be infected with the virus, most cases involve very close direct contact with sick birds.

Ms Shaw commented: “Avian influenza is not a foodborne pathogen. It cannot be contracted from eating properly cooked poultry meat and eggs.”

Ms Shaw said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) position is also that properly cooked poultry and eggs pose no threat.

She advised that US consumers should always follow the FDA’s procedures for safe handling and cooking of poultry products:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw poultry and eggs.

  • Clean cutting boards and other utensils with soap and hot water to keep raw poultry or eggs from contaminating other foods.

  • Cutting boards may be sanitised by using a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach and 1 gallon of water.

  • Cook poultry to an internal temperature of at least 170°F. Consumers can cook poultry to a higher temperature for personal preference.

  • Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 170°F.

  • Use pasteurised eggs or egg products for recipes that are served using raw or undercooked eggs. Some examples of these kinds of dishes are Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream. Commercial mayonnaise, dressing and sauces contain pasteurised eggs that are safe to eat. Pasteurised eggs and egg products are available from a growing number of retailers and are clearly labelled.

Further Reading

Go to our other avian influenza news items by visiting our Poultry Health section.

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