“There is no epidemiological evidence to date that avian influenza can be transmitted to humans through consumption of food, notably poultry and eggs. When one considers the low number of recorded human infections in relation to the high number of people …exposed to H5N1 virus-infected animals, it is clear that a readily accessible portal of entry [into the human body] does not exist.” [However,] there is mounting circumstantial evidence of infection via ingestion so, as a precautionary measure, this mode of transmission cannot be ruled out.
FDA plans to compile a list of foods and dietary supplements at high risk of contamination with avian influenza. Ready-to-eat foods that require little or no cooking might be contaminated with the virus by workers who have avian influenza.
Home slaughtering and preparation of sick or dead poultry is extremely hazardous. Under no circumstances should anyone eat a sick bird or a bird that died for an unknown reason. HPAI H5N1 virus can be on the inside and/or outside of eggs laid by infected birds. Therefore, it is important not to consume raw or partially cooked eggs (i.e. no runny yolks).
These food safety rules will protect consumers from both HPAI H5N1 and other foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella:
- Separate raw meat from cooked foods
- Do not use the same chopping block or utensils for raw meat and other foods
- Do not put cooked meat back on the raw meat platter
- Wash your hands with soap and hot water after handling raw meat
- Cook food at or above 165 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e. no pink meat)
- Fully cook eggs (i.e. no runny yolks)
- Fully cooked or pasteurized eggs / egg products are safe to eat.
- HPAI H5N1 is killed by cooking food at or above 165 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e. no pink meat). HPAI H5N1 is not killed by freezing or refrigeration.
Is it safe to eat poultry and eggs? — World Health Organization