“Bird Flu:” It’s not in your food

You’ve probably heard about “bird flu.” It’s the human version of the flu that occurs in birds called “avian influenza.” Some people fear it could be the basis for an influenza epidemic among humans similar to the “Spanish flu” way back in 1918.

This hasn’t happened. It may never happen. There are many barriers – some of them natural and some of them human-made – between avian influenza in birds and an influenza epidemic in humans.

For now, the idea that “bird flu” could cause a devastating human pandemic is only conjecture and a storyline for science fiction. We believe it will stay that way.

The most dangerous type of avian influenza is called “highly pathogenic H5N1.” This has occurred primarily in Asian countries. We have NEVER had it in the United States.

Also very important is the fact that avian influenza is not a foodborne disease. That is, you are not going to get “bird flu” by eating properly cooked poultry.

Click for some important facts about “bird flu,” avian influenza, chickens, turkeys, and people.

You should continue to take the normal steps to ensure the quality and safety of poultry products – chicken, turkey, and eggs. Click for safe food handling tips.

World Health Organization on “Bird Flu”

World Health Organization on “Bird Flu” “The majority of human cases of H5N1 infection have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry. There is no evidence to suggest that the H5N1 virus can be transmitted to humans through properly prepared poultry or eggs.”

World Health Organization, Avian Influenza Fact Sheet, updated April 2011

Scientists working

“American consumers don’t have to worry about getting avian flu from eating poultry,” says Dr. Michael Doyle (pictured above, center), director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia. “We know that if you properly cook poultry, it’s safe.”

National Chicken Council National Turkey Federation