Connect with Us: Foodservice RDs & Health Professionals

Eggs: Safe from Avian Flu?

Do news reports about outbreaks of avian flu or “bird flu” have you wondering?

Recent news of avian flu findings in North America began appearing in December, 2014.  According to Agri-Pulse (April 23, 2015), “The H5N2 strain of avian influenza was first confirmed in January in the Pacific Northwest and has since spread to the Midwest, and recently to Iowa, the nation’s top egg-producing state.”

Avian flu was also confirmed to have spread to Nebraska. On May 14, Nebraska Governor, Pete Ricketts, declared a state of emergency due to the avian flu outbreak, joining Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa as states that have taken the same action so far.

As many as 47 million birds have been affected by the virus, and egg prices continue to rise. (NYT)

Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Eggs – Free of Avian Flu

Avian flu virus, according to the FDA, can be both on the shell and inside the egg. The FDA says the avian flu virus is “not transmissible by eating poultry or eggs that have been properly prepared.” What exactly is proper preparation?

Poultry science experts at Clemson University state that the avian influenza virus is killed at 170°F. The problem is that most culinary styles do not cook an egg to these safe temperatures. For example, a sunny-side up egg reaches only 104°F. Even an egg over-hard can turn out below 165°F. However, a pasteurized egg eliminates the risk of avian flu, as well as Salmonella.

Want to enjoy eggs with no worries about avian flu? With regard to avian flu, the FDA advises consumers, “Use either shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella by pasteurization or another approved method, or pasteurized egg products for recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served.” This will provide protection against both Salmonella foodborne illness and avian flu for any culinary style and temperature—even for recipes calling for a raw egg.
Pasteurized = peace of mind™.

Avian Flu – U.S.A: Timeline

  • 1983-84: Avian influenza outbreaks resulted in the destruction of approximately 17 million chickens, turkeys, and guinea fowl in the northeastern United States (USDA)
  • 2004: USDA confirmed an avian flu outbreak in chickens in the southern United States. The disease was quickly eradicated; the disease was limited to one flock. (USDA)
  • December 2014 – January 2015: There are 14 reports of avian influenza in wild and domestic birds in California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington (CDC)
  • February – April 2015:  Avian flu spreads to commercial poultry flocks in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, the Dakotas and Kansas, and Wisconsin (Agri-Pulse)
  • April 23, 2015: Minnesota declares a state of emergency due to 60 outbreaks of the H5N2 strain of avian flu in commercial turkey operations, affecting 2.6 million birds (Agri-Pulse)
  • May 1, 2015: Iowa declares a state of emergency due to avian flu. (CNBC)
  • May 14, 2015: Nebraska declares a state of emergency due to avian flu. (NBC)
  • May 27, 2015: Avian Influenza continues to strike flocks in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa. (CIDRAP)
  • June 9, 2015: First Minnesota farm struck by H5N2 virus restarts operation. (CIDRAP)

For a more detailed timeline, visit Fox News and for up-to-date information, visit the USDA avian flu outbreaks Web page.

Updated June 19, 2015.