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FDA studies confirm safety of pasteurized milk
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MANHATTAN  — The Kansas Department of Agriculture has been actively working with the Kansas dairy industry to respond to the nationwide concerns due to the discovery of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in dairy cattle. KDA has also been closely following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s testing of the commercial milk supply, which on Friday confirmed the effectiveness of the pasteurization process.

The KDA Division of Animal Health is helping dairies and veterinarians to understand and comply with the Federal Order from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA–APHIS) which took effect on Monday, April 29. The order requires lactating dairy cattle to receive a negative test for the virus prior to interstate movement. It also requires laboratories and state veterinarians to report positive results to USDA–APHIS.

These measures were instituted in an effort to further protect the U.S. livestock industry from the threat posed by HPAI. The Federal Order came two days after the Kansas Animal Health Commissioner, Dr. Justin Smith, issued a state order that expanded requirements for interstate or intrastate movement of lactating dairy cattle to include a recent health certificate (CVI). In March, KDA announced that HPAI was identified in two commercial dairy herds, and early April there were two additional herds in Kansas that reported positive tests. Data appears to indicate that the virus is no longer present after 21-30 days, which has already passed for the positive Kansas herds.

Farmers and ranchers in Kansas have been advised to practice good biosecurity measures to protect their susceptible animals from being exposed to HPAI. This includes limiting movement of vehicles and visitors on and off the premises, separating domestic and wild animals as much as possible, minimizing movement of cattle, and monitoring animals for clinical signs of HPAI.

On Friday, the FDA reaffirmed its confidence that the commercial milk supply is safe. Their national commercial milk sampling study conducted over the last few weeks confirmed that pasteurization is effective in inactivating HPAI in milk. The pasteurization process of heating milk to a high temperature ensures milk and dairy products can be safely consumed. In line with long-standing policy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend consuming unpasteurized milk or raw milk. Dairies are also required to only allow milk from healthy animals to enter the food supply chain.

Updates on HPAI in Kansas, including the Commissioner’s Order issued on April 22, can be found on the KDA Division of Animal Health webpage dedicated to HPAI detections in livestock: This page also provides a link to the USDA’s HPAI in Livestock webpage, which provides a variety of resources to assist livestock owners, a link to the Federal Order and affiliated guidance documents, and an ongoing report on confirmed cases in affected states across the U.S.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to serving Kansas farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and the consumers/customers they serve while promoting public health and safety, protecting animal health, and providing consumer protection and food safety to the best of our ability.