Food Is Safe Amidst New HPAI Measures

Eight states have detected the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in dairy cow herds. To protect the U.S. livestock industry from the threat, USDA is taking action to get ahead of this disease and limit its spread.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced a Federal Order requiring mandatory testing for interstate movement of dairy cattle effective Monday, April 29.

See The New Measures

  • Before interstate movement, dairy cattle must receive a negative test for Influenza A virus at an approved National Animal Health Laboratory Network laboratory. There is one in Madison and surrounding states. The cost of the test is covered by APHIS. Wisconsin State Veterinarian Dr. Darlene Konkle expects turnaround times for test results to be quick.
  • Owners of herds with positive dairy cattle will be required to provide epidemiological information, including animal movement tracing.
  • These steps will be immediately required for lactating dairy cattle as they are at the highest risk of spreading the disease. Cows concentrate the virus in their mammary glands, Konkle explains.
  • Laboratories and state veterinarians must report positive Influenza A detection diagnostic results to USDA APHIS. This isn’t new to Wisconsin, according to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Other animals that have contracted the virus have been detected in young goats in Minnesota housed near poultry. Wild mammals, such as foxes and raccoons – predators of wild birds – have also contracted the virus. Konkle does not expect the federal order to expand to other species. DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski says Wisconsin does not intend to put further restrictions in place.

DATCP has more information on the order:

Safety Of Milk

This action has nothing to do with the safety of the milk in the supply chain, says Alan Bjerga with the National Milk Producers Federation. 

“Pasteurization kills this virus. There is not a risk from the consumer population from drinking milk,” he says. “(The Federal Order) is all an effort to keep bird flu — H5N1 — from jumping from dairy cattle potentially to human beings.”

HPAI is not in Wisconsin. You can stay up to date on the virus here:

Adam Brock, administrator of the state Division of Food and Recreational Safety, says he’s been getting phone calls about whether eggs, milk, and meat are safe to eat. He says yes! Brock also addresses the recent headline about HPAI found in grocery store milk — he reminds us that the fragments of the virus found in the milk were inactive because pasteurization kills HPAI.

“I’m not concerned about drinking milk,” he says, explaining that pasteurization is the gold standard for the safety of milk. “I would not be concerned about the milk supply.”

He’s also not concerned about cooked meat. Ground meats should be at 160°F. Poultry should be at 165°F.

Brock reminds us that practicing the basics of food safety, such as washing your hands and avoiding cross-contamination of raw and cooked food, will keep you from getting foodborne illnesses.

He says Wisconsin is unique in that it is a very “collaborative” state with advisor committees on dairy, produce, and retail foods, for example. The industry works closely together to make sure it produces safe, high-quality food. This collaboration also makes it easier for the state to get a handle on disease outbreaks, such as HPAI.

“I think Wisconsin does a great job on this,” he says. “It is unparalleled.”