Concerned About Bird Flu? Cook Burger to Medium

Bird flu has been in the news recently. There have been outbreaks of the illness in cattle. It hasn't yet been detected in the U.S. retail meat supply. However, people are understandably cautious about what they put into their bodies, especially on the heels of a global pandemic.

Wanting to understand the risk, the USDA did a test. They put some of the virus into ground beef and steaks to learn if it poses a risk to meat eaters if it does get into the food chain.

Beef cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit or above has no trace of the virus. A rare cook significantly decreased levels of the virus, but it was still present. The USDA is testing the meat supply, but to be safe, if you are concerned, you should aim for a core temperature of 145.

The FDA has found particles of the bird flu in 20 percent of retail milk samples. The particles cannot get a person sick, but raw, unpasteurized milk may be dangerous.

Dairy cows in nine states have tested positive for the flu. It's also been found in wastewater in two states without confirmed cases. Older dairy cattle are frequently slaughtered for ground beef. That has worried people in the run-up to peak grilling season.

Only one known dairy farm worker has tested positive for the virus during the current outbreak. The CDC is offering compensation to farm workers who participate in a study of the outbreak. No one has signed up.

So far, the virus hasn't posed a large threat to people. However, it can move from species to species. The CDC has a dashboard of the affected areas and pays close attention to the problem. The government is spending hundreds of millions to ensure this problem doesn't become a threat. It's not a strain we have dealt with before, and it could be very contagious to people just because it's so novel.

"There's no current evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission," said Dr. Raj Panjabi of Harvard Medical School. "It's the moment to get ready to step up investments in public health, especially around prevention, protection and preparedness."

Pasteurization and cooking can kill bird flu. If you wish to consume dairy and meat but are concerned about your safety, ensure the products you enjoy have been pasteurized or are cooked to at least 145 F. That way, you can stay safe and enjoy your cookout!  

Banner image: Los Muertos Crew via Pexels

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