Avian flu: Should you gobble with caution this Thanksgiving? | Allen and Allen

Avian flu: Should you gobble with caution this Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and the first thing most of us think about is turkey. Of course, turkey is consumed by Americans all year long. In fact, Americans consume an average of 18 pounds of turkey meat per capita each year.

Thanksgiving dinner

Each Thanksgiving about 675 million pounds of turkey is consumed in the US. Interestingly, Virginia is one of the five top turkey-producing states in the nation!

How widespread is the avian flu outbreak among turkey farms?

However, safety concerns have increased this year, as avian flu has been discovered at multiple commercial turkey farms across the United States. As of March 2022, bird flu had been confirmed at commercial turkey farms located in 23 states, including at least one in Virginia.

The United States is the world’s largest producer and exporter of turkey meat. In response to the widespread outbreak of avian flu found at a large Indiana turkey farm,  the nations of Taiwan, China, and Korea, seeking to limit the spread of avian flu, began blocking non-heated poultry meat imported from Indiana.

In response to an outbreak in North Carolina this March, more than 32,000 turkeys were euthanized after testing positive for bird flu.

The main reason for euthanizing infected turkeys is to prevent the disease from spreading, because although avian flu is not harmful to the wild birds that transmit it, it is highly contagious and deadly to domesticated birds like turkeys.

Is there good news for people planning a big turkey dinner?

Yes, there is. Humans do not need to avoid poultry products, even during an outbreak, because:

  • The United States Department of Agriculture mandates routine testing of flocks for avian flu.
  • The symptoms onset early, so it is unlikely that infected poultry or eggs would enter the food supply chain.
  • Avian flu is not transmissible by eating properly-prepared and cooked poultry.

person carving turkey

How can I properly prepare my turkey to avoid illness?

If you have any concerns about avian flu, be sure to cook your turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Any potential avian influenza will not survive that temperature.

What about my backyard poultry flock?

While it is highly unlikely to catch avian flu from eating infected poultry products, it is possible for the disease to be transmitted to humans.

Those who have a backyard poultry flock, or work in the poultry industry may be at risk. Caution should be observed if you come into close contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces.

backyard turkey flock

Overall, the avian flu has had a devastating financial impact on turkey farmers. They’ve had to euthanize their turkeys to prevent the spread of disease. Fortunately, these measures are intended to stop the spread of the disease, which would’ve caused further financial losses.

If you or a loved one have suffered a foodborne illness through the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced foodborne illness attorneys at Allen & Allen today for a free consultation, at 804-353-1200.