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TX Ag Commissioner: "There is no reason for consumers to panic" due to HPAI detection in grocery milk samples

AUSTIN, TX– On April 25, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller addressed growing concerns following the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) discovery of HPAI particles in commercial grocery milk samples. While this development is significant, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), FDA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed that the commercial milk supply is safe.

"There is no reason for consumers to panic," noted Commissioner Miller. "Milk and dairy products remain safe for consumption. Milk from affected cows is discarded before it can enter the supply chain. In the rare event that contaminated milk does enter the supply chain, pasteurization effectively kills viruses even if traces of the virus remain detectable."

For more than a century, pasteurization has secured the safety of dairy products worldwide. The pasteurization process is a crucial step in dairy production. To effectively kill harmful bacteria and viruses, the milk is heated to around 161°F (71.7°C) for 15 to 30 seconds. Even in cases where raw milk may contain a virus, pasteurization consistently kills pathogens to levels that pose no risk to consumer health.

“Nearly all commercial milk in the U.S. originates from the Grade “A” milk program,” Commissioner Miller stated. “That is another way to maintain industry-wide safety and quality standards.”

The USDA has confirmed the presence of the HPAI virus at 33 dairy cattle facilities across 8 states, including Kansas, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas. Additionally, infections have been verified at eight poultry facilities spanning five states including Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Texas.

Effective Monday, April 29th, 2024, the USDA will require the following biosecurity mandates for dairy producers and animal health professionals:

  • Dairy cattle are required to receive a negative test for influenza A virus at an approved National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) facility before interstate movement.

  • Owners of herds in which dairy cattle test positive for interstate movement will be required to provide epidemiological information, including animal movement tracing.

  • Dairy cattle moving interstate must adhere to conditions specified by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

These steps will immediately be required for lactating dairy cattle. These requirements for other classes of dairy cattle will be based on scientific factors concerning the virus and its evolving risk profile.

Laboratories and state veterinarians must report positive influenza A nucleic acid detection diagnostic results (e.g., PCR or genetic sequencing) and positive influenza A serology diagnostic results in livestock to APHIS.

“Even with USDA’s recent restrictions on cattle movement, I remain confident that we won't see milk shortages or substantial price hikes,” Miller added.


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