Ames, Iowa — Avian influenza does not impact the foods that consumers eat, says an Iowa State University food safety expert.
Dr. Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension specialist in food safety says that consumers should feel safe to eat properly-cooked and prepared meat and eggs from poultry.
She says 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. She says it’s technically not impossible for humans to be infected with the virus, but most cases involve very close direct contact with sick birds.
She says it doesn’t matter if you get your eggs and poultry meat from the store or direct from a farmer.
Shaw said the Food and 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.
Shaw says she encourages people to continue to support poultry and egg farmers by eating eggs and poultry meat because, as she puts it, “it’s our livelihood.”
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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