Avian influenza does not impact the foods that consumers eat, according to an Iowa State University food safety expert.
“Consumers should feel safe to eat properly cooked and prepared meat and eggs from poultry,” said Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension specialist in food safety.
“Avian influenza is not a foodborne pathogen,” said Shaw. “It cannot be contracted from eating properly cooked poultry meat and eggs.”
The disease is caused by an influenza virus that can infect poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, domestic ducks and geese, and is carried by migratory birds such as ducks, geese and shorebirds. Humans can be infected with the virus, but most cases involve very close direct contact with sick birds.
Shaw said the Food & Drug Administration maintains that properly cooked poultry and eggs pose no threat. She advised that consumers always should follow the FDA’s procedures for safe handling and cooking of poultry products:
• Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw poultry and eggs.
• Clean cutting boards and other utensils with soap and hot water to keep raw poultry or eggs from contaminating other foods.
• Cutting boards may be sanitized by using a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach and 1 gallon of water.
• Cook poultry to an internal temperature of at least 170°F. Consumers can cook poultry to a higher temperature for personal preference.
• Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 170°F.
• Use pasteurized eggs or egg products for recipes that are served using raw or undercooked eggs. Some examples of these kinds of dishes are Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream. Commercial mayonnaise, dressing and sauces contain pasteurized eggs that are safe to eat. Pasteurized eggs and egg products are available from a growing number of retailers and are clearly labeled.
The Egg Industry Center at Iowa State University has additional information for consumers at: http://www.ans.iastate.edu/EIC/Templates/AvianInfluenzaConsumers.dwt
The ISU College of Veterinary Medicine has avian influenza information, including materials to protect backyard flocks, at: http://vetmed.iastate.edu/aiv-background-and-resources