Michigan Health Authorities Urge Caution on Raw Milk Consumption Amid Avian Influenza Outbreak

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) have issued a joint reminder to residents regarding the dangers of consuming raw (unpasteurized) milk, at this time with the current Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak affecting dairy cow herds. With one reported case of transmission to humans in Texas this year, officials stress the elevated risk.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS’s chief medical executive, emphasized the vulnerability of certain demographics, such as children under 5, adults over 65, and individuals with weakened immune systems, to raw milk-related illnesses. Given the cross-species infection of HPAI, ensuring the consumption of pasteurized milk and dairy products becomes crucial for public health.

Pasteurized milk undergoes a rigorous heating process that eliminates disease-causing germs like Campylobacter, E. coli, and Salmonella, making it exceptionally safe. However, consuming raw dairy products exposes individuals to various illnesses. Please note that only pasteurized milk is available in stores and distributed in school lunches.

The FDA reassures the safety and availability of pasteurized milk products nationwide, given its efficacy in deactivating bacteria and viruses, including influenza viruses. Pasteurization remains a mandatory requirement for milk involved in interstate commerce.

To reduce risks, the CDC recommends selecting pasteurized milk and dairy products, and keeping items refrigerated at 40⁰F or below for perishable foods, and safely disposing of expired items, including milk and dairy products. Read MDHHS press release here. For additional Q&A about raw milk visit CDC.gov/foodsafety/rawmilk.

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