Avian Influenza Foodservice Handout

, February 22, 2006 -

Avian Influenza Facts: It's not in your food



Avian Influenza & Facts: Poultry Products Are Safe to Eat



Americans who enjoy the great taste and health benefits of eating poultry products 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 160 degrees F—kills the virus if any is present.


FACT TWO:  Food establishments in America follow strict guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration on cooking temperatures and practice safe food handling procedures.


FACT THREE:  The U.S. does not import poultry from any of the countries where “Asian bird flu” has been found.  The chicken and turkey prepared for you in restaurants 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 U.S.


FACT FOUR:  We do not have the “Asian bird flu” in the U.S. now, and we have never had it.  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 FIVE:  If dangerous types of avian influenza are ever found in the U.S., strict controls are in place to provide for immediate eradication.  These controls include destroying and disposing, through environmentally sound methods, any flock in which dangerous strains of avian influenza are found or through controlled slaughter and strict quarantines—in keeping with recommendations of the World Organization for Animal Health.  Destroyed birds would not be sold for use as food.