HomeTop StoriesGround beef tested negative for bird flu, says USDA

Ground beef tested negative for bird flu, says USDA

The tests of minced meat purchased in stores were negative bird flu so far, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday: after studying meat samples collected from states with herds infected by this year’s unprecedented outbreak of the virus in cattle.

The results “reaffirm that the meat supply is safe,” the department said in a statement released late Wednesday after testing was completed.

Health authorities have cited the “rigorous meat inspection process” overseen by the department’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) when asked whether this year’s outbreak among dairy cattle could also pose a threat to meat eaters.

“FSIS inspects every animal before slaughter, and all livestock carcasses must pass post-slaughter inspection and be determined to be fit to enter the human food supply,” the department said.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratories tested a total of 30 samples of ground beef purchased from stores in states with dairy herds that tested positive.

So far, dairy cattle in at least nine states — Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota and Texas — have tested positive for H5N1, which is often fatal to poultry and other animals. like catsbut has largely spared the cattle, apart from occasionally disrupting their milk production for a few weeks.

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A USDA spokesperson said the ground beef they tested came from stores in just eight of those states. Colorado was only confirmed to have H5N1 in a dairy cow after USDA collected the samples. The spokesperson did not comment on whether beef from stores in other states would be sampled.

More results are expected soon from the avian influenza department in beef. Samples collected from the meat muscle of dairy cows condemned by slaughter facility inspectors continue to be tested for the virus. The department is also testing how cooking beef patties at different temperatures will kill the virus.

“I want to emphasize that we are quite confident that the meat supply is safe. We are just doing this to further our scientific knowledge, to make sure we have additional data points to make that statement,” Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban, USDA food safety secretary, told reporters on Wednesday.

The studies come after the USDA prepared testing requirements for dairy cattle crossing state lines last month in response to the outbreak.

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Officials said this was partly because it had detected a mutated version of H5N1 in the lung tissue of an asymptomatic cow sent to slaughter. While the cow was blocked from entering the food supply by FSIS, officials suggested the “isolated” incident raised questions about how the virus spread.

Signs of bird flu have also found their way into retail dairy offerings, with as many as one in five milk samples testing positive in a nationwide Food and Drug Administration survey.

The FDA has attributed these to harmless fragments of the virus left over after pasteurization. pointing to experiments which showed that there was no live infectious virus in the samples of products such as milk and sour cream that initially tested positive.

But the discovery has health authorities and experts concerned that cows without symptoms could be flying under the radar as farms are believed to be throwing away milk from sick cows.

One herd that tested positive in North Carolina remains asymptomatic and is still actively producing milk, a spokesperson for the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services told CBS News.

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It remains unclear how H5N1 entered the milk supply. Don Prater, the FDA’s top food safety official, said Wednesday that milk processors “can receive milk from hundreds of different farms, which can cross state lines,” complicating efforts to track the virus.

“It will take extensive testing to trace it that far,” Bailee Woolstenhulme, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, told CBS News.

Woolstenhulme said health authorities can only easily trace the milk to so-called ‘bulk tanks’ given to bottlers.

“These bulk tanks contain milk from multiple dairies, so we would need to test cows from all dairies whose milk was in the bulk tank,” Woolstenhulme said.

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