The U.S. FDA issued its April 2024 update, noting that "the presence of HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza] using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) testing" has been detected in its testing of milk from affected animals, in the processing system and on store shelves.

The FDA notes that while the presence of particles of the virus was detected, it had been inactivated. This inactivity was the result of the pasteurization process that 99% of the commercial milk supply produced on dairy farms in the U.S. is subject to through the Grade "A" milk program and the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. Therefore, the organization says that pasteurization "eliminate[s] pathogens to a level that does not pose a risk to consumer health."

Other efforts to reduce the amount of virus in the milk supply have been employed, including diverting or destroying the milk that comes from sick cows. Cattle infected with the virus suffer from decreased lactation, low appetite and other symptoms.

According to the FDA, "In addition to lab testing, a critical step in the scientific confirmation process includes testing of milk that is representative of real-world scenarios in which milk is typically pooled in large amounts from numerous healthy cows from numerous farms before pasteurizing and processing.

"Work is underway to test samples of milk in systems that represent current industry practices using the range of temperature and time combinations that are used in pasteurization processes.

"Additional analysis is underway of milk on store shelves across the country in addition to work to evaluate any potential differentiation for various types of dairy products (e.g., whole milk, cream)."

More information will be provided as it becomes available.