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First Bird Flu Detected in Beef; Human Anti-Pandemic Vaccines in Development

May 27, 2024
USDA inspections of 96 culled dairy cows turned up one positive sample; the beef would not have been allowed into the food supply.

There were two updates on avian influenza over the long weekend. USDA detected bird flu in beef for the first time, but the meat was not allowed to enter the nation's food supply. And media reports said U.S and European officials were stepping up development of vaccines that could prevent avian influenza from becoming a pandemic.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which has been monitoring beef tissue from 96 culled and condemned dairy cows, said “viral particles were detected in tissue samples, including muscle, from one cow.

“Meat from condemned cows [presumably ones that show signs of any disease] is prohibited from entering the food supply … No meat from these dairy cattle entered the food supply.”

The 96 dairy cows were diverted from the supply because federal inspectors noticed signs of illness during routine inspections of carcasses at meat processing plants. Bird flu was found in only one of those cows.

The agency also has been testing ground beef for bird flu at retail stores, but it has yet to find any sign of the virus. Even if it were to get through, the Agriculture Dept. says cooking beef to an internal temperature of 165 degrees will kill it just as cooking kills E. coli and other viruses.

Back to the vaccine: Reuters reported U.S officials were “moving bulk vaccine from CSL Seqirus that closely matches the current virus into finished shots that could provide 4.8 million doses of vaccine.”

European health officials told Reuters they also were in talks to acquire CSL's prepandemic vaccine. Canadian health officials said they have met with GSK, maker of Canada's seasonal flu shots, to discuss acquiring and manufacturing a prepandemic bird flu vaccine once its seasonal flu production capacity is freed up. Other countries, including the UK, are discussing how to proceed on prepandemic vaccines.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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