Heat Treatment Proven to Neutralize Bird Flu Virus in Cow’s Milk

Heat Treatment Proven to Neutralize Bird Flu Virus in Cow’s Milk
Heat Treatment Proven to Neutralize Bird Flu Virus in Cow’s Milk. Credit | VWPics

United States – Reassurances that heat treatment eradicates bird flu virus in cow’s milk came on Friday from a new study conducted at a government lab, which sought to recreate commercial pasteurization.

Addressing Concerns of Bird Flu in Dairy Cows

When the bird flu, referred to as H5N1, was identified in U. S. dairy cows early this year, there was no research to determine whether the milk from infected cows was effectively neutralized by heat treatment. However, officials were assured by studies indicating that pasteurization in eggs, which means heating at lower temperatures and for a shorter period, was effective, said FDA’s Donald Prater, as reported by HealthDay.

Inconsistent Initial Findings Prompt Further Research

Another study conducted in April revealed that while there were no detectable signs of the live pathogenic bacteria in samples of pasteurized milk in stores, they did have some dead particles of the pathogen. However, some small and later attempts to mimic the process of pasteurization proved to be effective and inconsistent.

The new study was conducted at a federal research center located in Athens, Georgia, and new equipment has been constructed that attempted to emulate industrial pasteurization more thoroughly than ever before.

Effective Virus Inactivation

It also enabled the sampling at some certain time within the process. The milk is heated in stages and flash-heated and, according to the study, the virus was eliminated before the milk even reached the 161 degree, 15 or more seconds “flash pasteurization” that is thought to be the indicator in making the milk safe, as reported by HealthDay.

“This information really fills an important gap in our understanding of how commercial pasteurization inactivates the virus,” Prater said.