Beef Tissue from Sick Cow Tests Positive for Bird Flu Virus

Beef Tissue from Sick Cow Tests Positive for Bird Flu Virus

Beef tissue from a sick dairy cow has tested positive for the bird flu virus, federal officials said on Friday.

The cow had been condemned to be culled because it was sick, and the meat did not enter the food supply, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The department continued to stress that the commercial food supply remained safe.

But the positive test, which came as part of an ongoing federal study of beef safety, raises concerns about whether the virus might make its way into the commercial beef supply, posing a health risk to humans.

So far, the virus, which is known as H5N1, has only been detected in dairy cattle and not in the beef cattle that are raised for meat. But experts believe that the outbreak is bigger than the official tally of 58 affected dairy herds in nine states.

“It’s evident that this is widespread and will require constant vigilance,” said Brian Ronholm, the director of food policy at Consumer Reports, an advocacy organization.

Overall, he said, he believed that the risk to consumers remained low. But, he added, “it will be important for consumers to make sure they cook meat to the proper temperature for additional assurance.”

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