Thus far, nine states have seen outbreaks in cows, the CDC says. Image: Jeff Green (Reuters)

Bird flu has been found in beef tissue from a sick cow that was sent to slaughter at a meat processing plant but the country’s food supply remains safe, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a statement last week.

According to the agency, the H5NI virus was found during routine testing of 96 dairy cows. Bird flu was only detected in one cow, the USDA said, noting that the virus was found in the cattle’s tissue samples, including muscle.

“No meat from these diary cattle entered the food supply,” the agency said, noting that it is “confident the meat supply is safe.”

The USDA said it has “rigorous” meat inspection processes and works with Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) veterinarians that inspect each animal before they are slaughtered. The cattle carcasses must then past a second inspection once they are slaughtered, the agency said, and afterwards it is decided whether they are fit to the enter the human food supply.

Thus far, the bird flu virus has been found in nine states, and was most recently detected in dairy cows in Michigan and Texas, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

In April, the USDA issued a federal order in which it mandated that dairy cows with signs of bird flu be tested in order to move across state lines. That came shortly after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it had found “genetic material” of the bird flu virus in samples of milk it had inspected. 

Just a few days prior, the FDA said it had found inactive traces of the virus in some of the commercial milk supply.



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