On May 16, 2024, in a webinar, titled, “2024 Bird Flu: What You Need to Know,” jointly presented by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WebMD, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) official revealed some findings from the agency’s ongoing testing of beef products for viable Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus (also known as “bird flu”).

Eric Deeble, D.V.M., Acting Senior Advisor for HPAI at USDA, said during the webinar that federal inspectors routinely purchase and test retail meat, and to this date, HPAI H5N1 has not been detected in beef. Additionally, he shared about a recent USDA experiment using ground beef patties that were inoculated with an H5N1 surrogate virus. The agency found that cooking the beef to “well done,” or 160 °F (71 °C), effectively inactivated any virus present. Cooking the patties to “rare,” or 120 °F (49 °C), resulted in much of the H5N1 present to die off; however, some of the virus remained viable on the patties.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS’) standing advice to cook beef patties to an internal temperature of 160 °F remains unchanged. All U.S. cattle are also required to be tested for and free of HPAI H5N1 before crossing state lines.

The agency is also currently conducting whole-muscle beef cuts for evidence of H5N1. The results will be available in the near future.