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Detection of Bird Flu Genetic Material in Cow Milk Raises Concerns

Cow milk

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Recent discoveries have unveiled the presence of bird flu genetic material in cow milk samples sold in U.S. grocery stores, prompting heightened health concerns. The findings, announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on April 23, have sparked discussions regarding potential risks to public health.

While the detection of bird flu RNA in some milk samples has raised alarm, health experts emphasize that pasteurized milk, widely available in stores, remains safe for consumption. Pasteurization, a standard process in milk production, effectively eradicates harmful bacteria and viruses, including those present in milk.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, reassures consumers that pasteurization is highly effective in neutralizing any virus particles present in milk. He underscores that there is no evidence to suggest that consuming pasteurized milk poses a risk of bird flu infection to humans.

Despite the detection of genetic material from the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus in some milk samples, experts emphasize that the risk of transmission to humans through consumption is extremely low. This reassurance stems from decades of evidence indicating minimal transmission risk of influenza A viruses through ingestion.

Dr. Meghan Davis, an environmental epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, underscores the importance of adhering to recommended food safety practices. She advises against consuming raw milk and raw milk products, which may pose various health risks, including exposure to infectious diseases.

The discovery of bird flu genetic material in cow milk has prompted renewed vigilance among health officials and stakeholders in the food industry. While concerns exist regarding the potential for viral adaptation and transmission, current evidence suggests a low risk to human health.

Health authorities urge consumers to remain informed and vigilant, emphasizing the importance of following recommended food safety guidelines. Individuals with questions or concerns about milk safety are encouraged to consult healthcare professionals or relevant public health agencies for guidance.