As the FDA calls for action against bird flu in raw milk, some states say their hands are tied.

Officials in two of three states investigating their first cases of bird flu in dairy cattle this month say their hands are tied after the Food and Drug Administration begged states to step up testing and restrictions on potentially infectious raw milk sold to consumers within their borders.

Wyoming, Iowa and Minnesota announced their first detections of the virus in recent days, becoming the first new states to be added to the USDA list of cases in weeks.

“There are no plans to monitor raw milk for H5N1 or restrict sales of raw milk due to the outbreak,” Derek Grant, a spokesperson for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, told CBS News in a statement.

Both Wyoming and Iowa have laws that significantly limit state oversight of products like raw milk to the state’s “informed end consumers.”

“For this reason, foods sold under the Wyoming Food Freedom Act are not licensed or regulated by the WDA, so there is no structure in place to conduct oversight or impose restrictions on sales,” said Grant.

In Iowa, officials said they are urging producers with sick cows to work with authorities to test cows for bird flu after noting that it has spread to cattle and poultry farms. Authorities did not go so far as to say they would restrict infected farms’ access to sell raw milk.

“The Iowa raw milk law explicitly prohibits the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Management from licensing and regulating raw milk dairies,” said spokesman Don McDowell in a press release.

FDA Recommendations to States

Although it is already illegal to sell raw milk interstate, some states have laws that allow its sale within their borders, although several only allow raw milk to be sold on farms.

FDA officials said in a letter last week, cracking down on intrastate sales was outside their jurisdiction.

“The agency has ensured that our state regulatory partners are aware of our concerns and recommendations, including by sharing and communicating directly, and by making this letter available on our website,” a spokesperson for the FDA in a statement, citing “multiple engagements” with states on the issue.

One of the FDA’s recommendations to states is the implementation of surveillance programs that would test for the H5N1 virus on dairy farms selling raw milk to try to “stop the sale of raw milk that may pose a risk to consumers”.

While recent search found signs the virus could also spread between cows in the respiratory tract, officials say said for months as droplets of raw milk teeming carriers of the virus were likely responsible for the majority of the spread between cows as well as impact on nearby animals and several cases in humans.

In contrast, the FDA cited essay showing that pasteurized milk remains safe consume. Pasteurization is a process that uses heat to kill dangerous organisms found in milk and dairy products…

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