Retail dairy samples recently tested for the avian flu virus, including cottage cheese and sour cream, did not detect any viable virus that would represent a risk to consumers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

In a joint press briefing with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Donald Prater, acting director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for the FDA, shared updates on ongoing bird flu investigations.

A multi-state outbreak of bird flu in dairy cows was first reported in late March, according to the CDC.

Early last week, initial testing results from the national retail milk study, which sampled 96 pasteurized milk products, showed through PCR testing that about 1 in 5 retail milk samples had tested positive for HPAI viral fragments.

This week, the agencies announced they had not detected “any viable virus” in a second group of test samples.

PHOTO: Cows huddle together at a cattle farm in Austin, Texas, April 2, 2024

Cows huddle together at a cattle farm in Austin, Texas, April 2, 2024. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), dairy cows at farms in several US states have fallen ill with bird flu.

Adam Davis/EPA/Shutterstock

“Today we’re announcing an additional set of results from our national study of 297 total retail dairy samples. The second group represents an additional 201 samples of pasteurized retail dairy products, including cottage cheese and sour cream in addition to fluid milk,” Prater said. “These samples underwent acute qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) testing, as well as the same egg inoculation test, and we’re encouraged that this preliminary testing also did not detect any viable virus.”

To further ensure the safety of other milk-derived products for the youngest population, the FDA said it “tested samples of retail powdered infant formula and powdered milk products marketed as toddler formula,” all of which came back negative, “indicating no detection of viral fragments or virus.”

These additional preliminary results “further affirm the safety of the US commercial milk supply” as well as the efficacy of pasteurization in inactivating HPAI, the agency explained.

The FDA is continuing to test samples of pooled raw milk routed to pasteurization and processing for commercial use in order to help characterize potential virus levels that pasteurization may encounter, which will also be used to inform studies to further validate pasteurization.

PHOTO: A woman shops in the dairy section of a supermarket in New York, Jan. 27, 2024.

A woman shops in the dairy section of a supermarket in New York, Jan. 27, 2024.

Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

The FDA, with the CDC, USDA and local health partners, is continuing surveillance of milk production, processing and pasteurization to manage the emerging disease.

The FDA also reiterated this week that it strongly advises against the consumption of raw milk and recommends that the industry not manufacture or sell raw milk or raw milk products.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.



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