15 Foods to Eat And Avoid During a Bird Flu Outbreak

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Avian influenza, or as most of us prefer to call it, bird flu, is a respiratory illness primarily affecting birds. The risk of its transmission to humans is generally low, but outbreaks can raise concerns, especially for those who enjoy poultry and eggs. This guide tells you what you can safely consume during a bird flu outbreak and what foods require extra caution or avoidance. We made it so you can make informed choices that won’t harm you and your loved ones while still enjoying a healthy and delicious diet.

Thoroughly Cooked Poultry (165°F/74°C)

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Cooking poultry to this internal temperature ensures any bird flu virus present is destroyed. For better accuracy, a food thermometer comes in handy. Use it to check the thickest part of the breast and thigh.

Well-Cooked Eggs (Solid Yolks)


While the virus is less likely to affect eggs, scrambled, fried hard, or boiled solid for at least 7 minutes are safe. The heat destroys the virus if present. Avoid runny yolks or soft-boiled eggs, as the virus might survive.

Plant-Based Proteins


These offer a safe and nutritious alternative to poultry in an outbreak. Beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and seeds are excellent protein and essential nutrient sources.

Fruits and Vegetables


Stock up on a variety of fresh or frozen produce. They provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep your immune system strong, which can help fight off any potential infections.



Rice, pasta, quinoa, oats, and other whole grains are an excellent base for meals. These foods provide energy and essential nutrients for overall well-being, so it helps to consume them.

Dairy Products (Pasteurized)


Dairy products—cheese, yogurt, etc.—are safe as long as they’ve been pasteurized. This process uses heat to kill harmful bacteria and viruses, including potential bird flu viruses.

Avoid These During a Bird Flu Outbreak


Now that we’ve explored the variety of safe and delicious options available during a bird flu outbreak, let’s turn our attention to the other side of the coin. Caution is necessary, and we’ll walk you through foods that might pose a higher chance of transmission.

Raw or Undercooked Poultry


Chicken, turkey, duck, or goose that isn’t cooked through (165°F/74°C) can harbor the bird flu virus. The virus can be present in infected birds’ muscle tissue and organs.

Raw or Undercooked Eggs


Sunny-side-up eggs, runny yolks, or soft-boiled eggs pose a risk if the hens are infected with bird flu. The egg’s yolk and albumen (white) can play host to the virus.

Raw Milk

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Unpasteurized milk, which hasn’t been heat-treated, can carry the bird flu virus. It’s best to stick to pasteurized milk products for guaranteed safety.

Blood and Offal

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These poultry parts, like liver and gizzards, can carry a higher virus concentration than muscle meat. It’s best to stay away from them entirely in an outbreak.

Birds Showing Flu Symptoms

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Wild birds with flu symptoms like lethargy, difficulty breathing, or unusual behavior can harbor the virus. Don’t touch sick or dead birds, and avoid consuming meat from them. Contact your local authorities for proper disposal guidelines.

Food Prepared in Unsanitary Conditions


Always practice good hygiene when handling food, washing your hands thoroughly before and after preparation. Be cautious about consuming food from unreliable places, especially street vendors or restaurants whose hygiene practices are questionable.

Staying Informed and Minimizing Risk: Reliable Sources


During a bird flu outbreak, staying informed through reputable organizations like government agencies (USDA, CDC) and trusted news outlets is non-negotiable. They will provide the latest updates on the situation, safety guidelines, and potential risks associated with specific foods.

The Role of Home Cooking


It’s true that commercially produced poultry and eggs generally undergo rigorous safety checks; however, home cooking allows you greater control over the preparation process. When there’s a bird flu outbreak, consider preparing poultry dishes more frequently. Ensure proper hygiene while handling raw meat, cook poultry to a safe internal temperature (165°F/74°C), and never reuse marinades on uncooked poultry.


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