During the Thanksgiving season there may be concern about the
bird flu, but don't let that stop you from serving turkey.
commonly known as “bird flu” is mostly spread by poultry and
other birds. The natural concern for anyone would be that we
could contract this life-threatening illness through the poultry
we eat. However, health officials are not concerned about
the spread of Avian Flu through food sources.
There are several strains of the Avian Influenza (AI) virus. AI is
classified based on the severity of illness they cause in
poultry. LPAI or low pathogenicity avian influenza produces few
clinical signs in infected birds. HPAI or high pathogenicity
avian influenza is the more severe form of the disease that is
more contagious and causes death in infected birds. One strain
of the high pathogenicity virus is H5N1. This strain has been
found mostly in Asian countries and most recently has spread to
Europe. H5N1 has been contracted by humans and caused serious
illness and death.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the
virus is spread by direct contact from infected birds to healthy
birds and by indirect contact from contaminated equipment and
materials. The virus is excreted through the feces and body
secretions of the bird. Most people who have contracted bird flu
have had direct contact with infected birds.
USDA has implemented safeguards to prevent introduction of
H5N1 in the United States. These restrictions include:
“Prohibiting the importation of live birds and hatching eggs
from countries that have been affected by H5N1, requiring
poultry products from East and Southeast Asia to be processed or
cooked in accordance with a USDA permit prior to importation and
requiring all imported birds to be quarantined at a USDA
facility and be tested for Avian flu before entering the
There have been incidences of the LPAI in the United States.
According to the USDA this type is not transmittable by eating
poultry. If HPAI did happen to enter the US, it is unlikely it
would reach the food chain.
Still, the USDA recommends safe handling
and preparation tips for poultry. This includes washing hands for
20 seconds before and after handling poultry, prevent
cross-contamination by keeping juices from poultry away from
other foods, wash surfaces that have come in contact with raw
meat with hot soapy water, sanitize cutting boards with a
solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach in one quart of
Always ensure that the turkey is cooked to the
proper temperature. A thermometer inserted into the inner most
part of the thigh or the inner most part of the breast should
read at least a minimum temperature of 165°F, which means the
turkey is safe to eat. However, the turkey can be cooked to
higher temperatures if desired. The minimum oven
temperature for cooking a whole turkey is 325°F.
For more information on the bird flu go to
Thursday, October 29, 2009