To verify the safety of meat in relation to avian influenza, or bird flu, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is continuing studies to reaffirm consumer confidence.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that results from its testing of retail ground beef found supplies tested negative for a presence of the virus.

The FSIS collected 30 samples of ground beef from retail outlets in the states with dairy cattle herds that had tested positive for the H5N1 influenza virus at the time of sample collection.

The USDA has stated that it is confident that the meat supply is safe.

However, two other studies are ongoing relating to bird flu in meat from cattle by the FSIS, along with the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

FSIS is currently collecting muscle samples at FSIS-inspected slaughter facilities of cull dairy cattle that have been condemned for systemic pathologies.

The samples will be analysed by APHIS using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to determine presence of viral particles.

The USDA is awaiting the results, which will be posted as soon as they become available.

ARS will be conducting a beef cooking study, and will be using a virus surrogate in ground beef.

The beef will be cooked at different temperatures to determine log-reduction of the virus.

The USDA has ensured consumers that the FSIS inspects each animal before slaughter, and all cattle carcasses must pass inspection after slaughter, which determines if it is fit to enter the human food supply.

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The tests follow confirmed viral fragments&lt;/a> of bird flu by US authorities in one-in-five samples of commercial milk.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that it had received some initial results from its nationally-representative commercial milk sampling supply.

Initial results from this testing show that around 20% of the 297 samples tested positive for bird flu viral fragments through quantitative PCR tests, with a greater proportion of positive results coming from areas with infected herds.

The FDA reiterated that a positive PCR test does not necessarily represent actual virus that may be a risk to consumers.