FDA recommends restrictions on raw milk amid bird flu concerns 

As the H5N1 bird flu virus continues to spread among dairy cattle, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging states to increase measures to protect the public from the hazards associated with raw milk. 

Raw milk may carry high levels of the H5N1 virus due to infections in cows’ udders. It is not yet confirmed if humans can contract bird flu through contaminated milk. 

However, cats on farms with infected cows have died after consuming unpasteurised milk, and three dairy workers exposed to raw milk have contracted the virus. Besides bird flu, the FDA highlights other health risks of raw milk, including illness, miscarriages, stillbirths, kidney failure, and death.

In an open letter posted on Thursday, the FDA called on states to give public warnings about the dangers of raw milk and to conduct testing on herds that produce it for sale.

The FDA also suggested that states should use their regulatory powers to halt the sale of raw milk within their borders, particularly in regions where dairy herds have tested positive for H5N1. 

Minnesota reported infected herds last week, becoming the 10th state to do so. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 82 herds across the US have tested positive for the virus.

While the FDA prohibits the interstate sale of raw milk, several states permit its sale for human consumption within their boundaries, subject to varying regulations. 

Some states allow raw milk to be sold as pet food labelled “not for human consumption,” leaving the final use to the discretion of consumers.

The FDA is advocating for warnings about the consumption of raw milk and urging states to monitor dairy herds for signs of illness indicative of H5N1 infection. 

The agency advises that milk from sick cows should be safely discarded and that raw milk or raw milk products fed to calves or other animals should be heat-treated or pasteurised.

Dr. Don Prater, acting director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, who is leading the agency’s H5N1 response noted in the letter: “Given the current and potential future risks that HPAI H5N1 virus poses to our nation’s public health, as well as the health of our nation’s food-producing animals and wildlife, it is important to work together to minimize the additional exposure of humans and other animal species.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.