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FDA Update on Bird Flu Traces in Milk: What to Know About Pasteurized and Raw Milk

FDA Update on Bird Flu Traces in Milk: What to Know About Pasteurized and Raw Milk

Fragments of the virus that causes bird flu, H5N1, were found in One of five samples of pasteurized milk Across the U.S., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday. A day later, the agency posted an update with good news, confirming that additional testing of the samples had not found active or infectious virus, which experts say would be the case because pasteurization. Bird flu is expected to kill or disable. Viruses, as it does other potentially harmful bacteria and viruses.

The FDA says the milk supply remains safe. Pasteurization is a requirement for commercial milk, which is why most milk is found on store shelves (although Not all, depending on local laws. around the sale of raw milk).

Still, the announcement of evidence of the virus in pasteurized milk was troubling because since bird flu was first reported in US dairy cows, evidence of it had previously only been reported in the unpasteurized product, which is milk that is heated. Did not go through the process of doing. Get rid of viruses and bacteria such as pasteurized products. It also suggested that the virus was spreading far beyond the cattle outbreak.

While the current public health risk to people is low, Some scientists And Infectious disease specialists Concerns have been expressed about the US health agencies' response to bird flu in farm animals and their lack of detail about information on milk samples. Virologist Angela Rasmussen, for example, Said in x thread Tuesday that new milk results show the disease is spreading asymptomatically in cows and is more widespread than previously thought and that “transparency and urgency” are needed to share relevant data. The apparent lack of” is undermining the ability to respond.

The FDA said in an update Friday that it will continue to review retail samples of dairy products and share results when possible.

And what about non-commercial milk supplies, or raw milk that has not been pasteurized? Although people who grew up on farms or around cattle may have had unpasteurized milk for dinner, raw milk A growing audience: People who seek it out for wellness purposes or sometimes travel to local farms to eat what they feel like eating. natural or gross.

Regarding raw milk or dairy products during times of bird flu, citing limited information about bird flu in dairy, The FDA says It is not known whether the bird flu virus can be transmitted through unpasteurized produce. The agency is reiterating its general. stance That people should avoid consuming raw or unpasteurized milk due to the risk of ingesting pathogens that are particularly dangerous to children, the elderly, pregnant people and people with weakened immune systems.

Experts I spoke to about this story before it was first published earlier this month basically said that, in general, influenza is not spread between people through food or drink. However, he emphasized the current health risks of unpasteurized milk, the consumption and sale of which is often sold outside of what you typically see on grocery store shelves, depending on local laws.

“In my opinion, there's a concern about the availability of raw milk that can become part of the food system, and people store that milk outside of going to the grocery store,” said Meg Shaffer, an infectious disease epidemiologist. Expert and National Public Health Advisor in Analytics. The firm SAS told CNET when this article was first published.

What to know about pasteurization and the trend of raw milk in times of bird flu.

Cows in a green pasture

Oliver Strewe/The Image Bank/Getty Images

What is pasteurization? Will it kill bird flu?

Pasteurization is a heating process that was invented by the French chemist Louis Pasteur in the 1860s and has since been widely used to kill harmful bacteria and pathogens that sometimes cause serious illness. can. This Includes bacteria which cause diseases such as E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella, and other pathogens.

Pasteurization is also expected to kill or inactivate the virus that causes bird flu, which is why health officials continue to say that pasteurized dairy products or the commercial supply of milk pose no risk.

May contain some milk products. Ultra pasteurized, which occurs when milk is heated to a higher temperature faster than normal pasteurization (two seconds) and then cooled rapidly. This increases its shelf life.

Pasteurized dairy products can be organic or inorganic. Whether you can buy or sell raw, unpasteurized milk. Depends on your state's laws.. In California, for example, you can buy raw milk in stores, although it must be. Properly labeled With a caveat that it is unpasteurized.

Gina Guthmuller, an immunologist, influenza researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Colorado, told CNET before the article was first published that if someone drinks milk contaminated with H5N1, that doesn't necessarily mean they're infected. He drinks milk. Being infected. He explained that influenza viruses are unstable outside the body and milk “bypasses the normal process by which we become infected” with the flu.

After health officials first announced traces of bird flu content in pasteurized milk, Guth Miller added Wednesday that bird flu outbreaks on dairy farms “appear to be interconnected, with the virus is very closely related.”

“At this point it appears that this outbreak is isolated to these very large dairy farms,” ​​Guthmiller said, noting that she was not aware of large farms that sell raw milk.

Finding bird flu virus content in pasteurized milk does not change the public health risk assessment, Dr. Umesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said in an email Wednesday.

Pasteurization is a process that will kill the viability of pathogens — it's not a process that will destroy their genetic material, he said.

Adalja previously noted that it was “unclear” whether unpasteurized milk would contain a live virus or if it could infect humans by drinking it, he explained. Influenza viruses are not transmitted to humans by ingestion. But of raw milk, he added, “there are many reasons not to drink it in the beginning.”

Why do people drink raw or unpasteurized milk?

Proponents of raw or unpasteurized milk prefer it. Various reasonsincluding its creamier texture and taste or anecdotal reports that it is easier to digest or more nutritious.

You can't argue with anyone's taste or texture preferences when it comes to food. Research seems to back up or disprove most claims regarding the nutritional or health benefits of raw milk compared to unpasteurized milk. The FDA, for example, states that Raw milk is not a cure or an antidote for lactose intolerance. The agency also claims the same information. Page That people are misusing the results of a 2007 study that looked at farm milk consumption, not raw milk consumption.

In an analysis of the benefits versus risks of raw milk research, Healthline reported that any small antimicrobial benefit from raw milk would be neutralized when refrigerated. It also reported, based on the results of a Systematic reviewthat minor nutritional deficiencies of water-soluble vitamins, including some B vitamins, are usually already low in milk.

“Several studies have shown that pasteurization does not significantly affect the nutritional quality of milk,” End of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Scientists do not have any evidence to show the nutritional benefits of drinking raw milk.”

Growing up on a dairy farm, Guthmler herself drank unpasteurized milk — she gets it. When it comes to drinking raw milk, she said, “the risks definitely outweigh the pros.”

“We're getting to a point with pasteurization where it looks like real milk,” Guthmuller said. In terms of nutritional quality, “you don't really affect the content of the milk by pasteurizing it”, he said, because it's done so quickly.

If you are looking for proven food. Features of gut healthKimchi, pickled vegetables, sour, Apple Cider Vinegar and buttermilk.

Dangers of drinking unpasteurized milk

While The FDA says Given that it is not yet known whether bird flu can be transmitted to people through unpasteurized or raw dairy, it may not be possible to assume that raw milk is a more dangerous choice for avian influenza than commercial milk, because raw The milk is not gone. By any process that will inactivate the virus.

In general, drinking raw milk poses health risks. In addition to what Guthmuller called “old-fashioned” bacteria that used to be a problem back in the day, before processes like pasteurization cleaned up the food supply, unpasteurized or raw milk exposed people to E. coli and Can cause serious diseases like listeria. Although it may cause only temporary or mild illness in most people, people with weakened immune systems, older adults, people who are pregnant, and very young children can have serious health effects, especially from drinking unpasteurized milk. There is danger.

According to Shaffer, the risk is especially high in children, who are more prone to severe disease. In severe cases, the health effects of drinking contaminated raw milk can lead to kidney failure.

Shaffer also pushed back against claims that diseases that were once a big problem in countries like the United States, such as tuberculosis, are no longer a problem. “This is true about tuberculosis, but we also have an effective treatment for it,” he said. That is not the case, he said, for some illnesses that babies can get from unpasteurized milk.

Diseases are, if anything, even more robust — antibiotic resistant, Schaefer said. He added that some bacteria that may be present in raw milk may not be detected by farmers because they do not cause disease in cows but in people.

When buying raw milk from a farm you know sets high safety standards and “good hygiene” practices during milking can reduce the risk of contaminated raw milk, It won't end itaccording to the CDC.

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