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Avian Influenza Retail Handout

, February 22, 2006 -

Avian Influenza & Facts: Poultry is Safe to Eat

People who enjoy the great taste and health benefits of eating poultry have no need to worry. Poultry products purchased in the U.S. are absolutely safe to eat. The first thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to get the facts.

So what is avian influenza? Avian influenza, or "bird flu," comes in several different types that can be mild or severe. The severe strain currently found in foreign countries, and causing health concerns, is H5N1 HPAI or "Asian bird flu." Following are more facts.

FACT ONE: You cannot get avian influenza from properly cooked food. There is almost no chance that any avian influenza viruses would be present in raw foods. Further, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that the heat of normal cooking-to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F-kills the virus if any is present.

FACT TWO: The U.S. does not import poultry from any of the countries where "Asian bird flu" has been found. The chicken, turkey and eggs you buy in your local supermarket comes from U.S. farms, except for a very small amount imported from Canada, which follows safety guidelines as strict and comprehensive as those in the United States.

FACT THREE: The U.S. government and the poultry industry are working together on extensive flock testing and surveillance programs to ensure early detection of any avian influenza virus-mild as well as severe-into a flock.

FACT FOUR: No special precautions need to be taken because of any fears about avian influenza. Just follow the usual handling and cooking instructions printed on every consumer package of fresh poultry.

To ensure the safe consumption and quality of poultry products, it is important to follow the following normal precautions:

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