USDA sampling retail beef in bird flu positive states

USDA sampling retail beef in bird flu positive states
May 01, 2024

Nine states and 36 herds are affected, the CDC says

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The United States Department of Agriculture is testing samples of retail ground beef to ensure safety as bird flu continues to spread in dairy cattle.

Nine states and 36 herds are affected by the outbreak as of April 30, the CDC says.

The tests will only occur on livestock in the affected jurisdictions and those sent directly for processing.

The PCR tests will determine “whether any viral particles are present,” a statement says, Reuters reported.

And a third test will examine cooking meat to different temperatures to see how the temperatures affect the virus.

These testing decisions come after the USDA on Monday implemented a rule requiring lactating dairy cows to test negative on PCR tests before crossing state lines.

This rule came into effect after traces of the avian flu virus was discovered in the U.S. milk supply.

Despite the findings, the Food and Drug Administration is reminding Americans that “the commercial milk supply is safe,” it said in a May 1 update.

Industry groups support the additional testing measures.

"USDA's additional testing is appropriate to ensure public health is protected and to stop the spread of animal disease," Sarah Little, a spokesperson for the Meat Institute, an industry group representing meat processors, told Reuters.

To date, the outbreak of avian flu in U.S. dairy cattle has had a limited effect on trade.

Only Colombia has announced a pause of U.S. beef imports related to this situation.

And this action is unnecessary, the U.S. Meat Export Federation says.

“The restrictions Colombia has imposed on U.S. beef as a result of the recent highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) findings in lactating dairy cows have no scientific basis,” the organization said in an April 26 statement.

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