Avian Influenza: It's Not In Your Food

Last Editorial Review: 11/15/2005

The scientific name for "bird flu" is "H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza" or "H5N1 HPAI."

We do not have H5N1 HPAI in the United States, and we have never had it.

Furthermore, you can feel confident that you cannot get the human form of avian influenza from properly handled and cooked food.

The heat of normal cooking destroys the virus that causes avian influenza. Microorganisms of all kinds are destroyed when the product reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

As usual, you should continue to take the normal steps to ensure the quality and safety of poultry products - chicken, turkey and eggs.

  • Keep the product refrigerated or frozen until ready to cook.
  • Thaw in refrigerator or microwave.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods.
  • Wash working surfaces (including cutting boards), utensils and hands after touching raw meat or poultry.
  • Cook thoroughly.
  • Keep hot foods hot.
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard.

The following chart provides the temperature to which your food is not only safe, but is the best quality:

  • Chicken, Turkey White Meat: 170 degrees F
  • Chicken, Turkey Dark Meat: 180 degrees F
  • Ground Chicken, Turkey: 165 degrees F
  • Eggs: 160 degrees F

Be assured that if the dangerous types of avian influenza should occur in the United States, the flocks involved will be destroyed. They will not be sold for use as raw food. No special precautions need to be taken by the consumer because of any fears about avian influenza.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- November 15, 2005 -- The poultry industry has launched a new Web site to respond to any public concern that may occur over avian influenza, highlighting the fact that it is not a food issue and that H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza -- "bird flu" -- does not exist in the United States.

"Protecting flocks, protecting people," says the site, at www.avianinfluenzainfo.com. "Avian influenza: It's not in your food," the site says, in an article on the safety of poultry products. The site is a joint project of the National Chicken Council (NCC), National Turkey Federation (NTF), and Egg Safety Center (ESC).

"The Web site www.avianinfluenzainfo.com will allow the industry to communicate with our partners, customers, and consumers regarding the latest information on avian influenza," said Hilary Shallo Thesmar, Ph.D., R.D., director of the Egg Safety Center in Washington, D.C. "The goal of the poultry industry is to prevent the disease from occurring in our flocks and to continue to provide a safe, wholesome, and nutrient rich product," she said.

"As Thanksgiving is approaching and nearly every American will have turkey at the center of their plate, this Web site will remind people that we don't import any turkeys into the United States," said Sherrie Rosenblatt, senior director of marketing and communications at NTF.  "The U.S. turkey farmer's number one priority is to ensure the health and well-being of the flock to provide a safe and nutritious product for Thanksgiving and all year long."

Information is given in brief articles, a question-and-answer format, and in news releases.  Some information is also given in Spanish.  Links are also provided to sources of official information, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"So far we have had no indication that the public is very concerned about avian influenza in its present form or about food safety being affected by avian influenza," Lobb said.  "However, we felt it was appropriate to post factual information that will address any concerns that people may have."

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens.  Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

The National Turkey Federation is the advocate for all segments of the U.S. turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities which increase demand for its members' products and protect and enhance the ability to effectively and profitably provide wholesome, high quality, nutritious turkey products.

The Egg Safety Center provides scientifically accurate information on food safety issues related to eggs.  The Center works with egg producers to provide them with the most up to date information available, regulatory officials to share information to improve the safety of eggs, and public health officials to monitor foodborne illnesses.  The Egg Safety Center exists under a cooperative agreement between the American Egg Board and United Egg Producers.

Source: National Chicken Council (NCC), National Turkey Federation (NTF), and Egg Safety Center (ESC) press release November 15, 2005.  (http://www.eatturkey.com/index.html)


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