FDA Finds Traces of Bird Flu Virus in Pasteurized Milk, Says Safe for Now

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday that it found traces of bird flu in some of the samples of pasteurized milk that it took.

While they found the virus in the milk, the FDA advised that it’s still safe to drink the milk as further testing is being performed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that bird flu is “caused by infection with avian influenza Type A viruses.” They can spread naturally among aquatic birds that are wild across the world, and can also infect other animal and bird species as well as domestic poultry.

The FDA said that the traces of bird flu were found while they were testing samples of pasteurized milk using a PCR testing method. That looks for traces of the genetic material in the substance being studied.

What the FDA said is that the traces that they found were only inactive remnants, and that the virus was killed as part of the pasteurization process — which means it was successful in its intended purpose.

The agency further advised that even though they received a positive result from the test, it doesn’t mean that they found a live version of it that’s infectious.

As the FDA said in a statement:

“Based on available information, pasteurization is likely to inactivate the virus, however the process is not expected to remove the presence of viral particles. To date, we have seen nothing that would change our assessment that the commercial milk supply is safe.”

Despite the fact that it says the milk is safe for people to drink, the FDA also said that it was waiting on results from additional studies that would confirm that conclusion.

The agency is completing testing of milk and egg production throughout the country as it seeks to ensure that these supplies are safe from the bird flu virus, which is circulating in the U.S. The agency has said that results from the safety studies that it is conducting would likely be released in the “next few days to weeks.”

All of this comes following a positive discovery of the avian flu in a human who was infected at a dairy farm in Texas.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said earlier this month that they identified the bird flu in a person who had direct exposure to some dairy cattle that were presumed to be infected by the virus.

In a statement, the DSHS said:

“The patient, who experienced eye inflammation as their only symptom, is being treated with the antiviral drug oseltamivir.”

That case is only the second confirmed case of the bird flu in humans in the U.S. There also hasn’t been any evidence that’s emerged that the virus could spread from one human to another.

That being said, there is concern that the virus could spread in the milk supply from cows who are infected.