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Selected questions and answers relating to hygiene of food and consumables in times of the bird flu – How can I protect myself and my family?

Changes to the version dated 16 March 2022: Addition of information on the transmission of the bird flu virus from infected cattle to humans through contact with the animals and consumption of milk

Concerned persons are asking whether poultry, poultry products or other foods can become contaminated with the bird flu virus (various subtypes of the avian influenza virus including H5N1 and H5N8). Here, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) provides answers to these questions.

Generally, the transmission of the pathogen via infected food cannot be ruled out. However, infections of humans with the bird flu virus are rare, and direct and close contact with infected birds or other animal species appears to be the main transmission route to humans. The BfR does not have any data verifying that humans have been infected and became ill after ingestion of food that was contaminated with the bird flu virus.

As the virus is sensitive to high temperatures, no adverse health effects are to be expected if the food has been well cooked. Meat is considered well cooked, if all sides and the core reach a temperature of at least 70 °C for 2 minutes. This is evident when the poultry meat is no longer red or pink and no red juices are leaking out.

So far, there is no evidence suggesting that humans can be infected by raw eggs or raw sausage products containing poultry meat from infected animals. However, it has been proven that eggs of infected animals can contain the virus both on the shell and also in the egg white and yolk. As a precaution, anyone who wants to protect themselves against bird flu viruses and other pathogens that are possibly present in eggs and egg products, should not consume raw egg products (whipped egg whites, tiramisu, etc.). The egg white and egg yolk of boiled eggs should be solid.


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