Advice of BuRO on avian influenza virus in mechanically separated poultry meat

BuRO advises the Minister for Medical Care and Sport to inform consumers about the importance of kitchen hygiene and proper heating when preparing poultry meat. Consumers who do so, are not exposed to avian influenza virus.

BuRO adds that the minister can reach out to consumers via the Netherlands Nutrition Centre (Voedingscentrum). The Nutrition Centre can address the issue in its general information to the public.


On 25 November 2020 the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) received a notification from Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) regarding a batch of mechanically separated chicken meat suspected of being contaminated with avian influenza virus. The batch had been produced by a Dutch meat processing company from raw materials that originated from several European countries. The virus was subsequently typed as HPAI H5N5.

This prompted the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to ask BuRO if the presence of avian influenza virus in poultry meat poses a risk for public health risk and if so, what mitigating measures can be taken to reduce the risk sufficiently.

Answer to question

BuRO indicates that the demonstration of infectious avian influenza virus in mechanically separated chicken meat has to be regarded as an exceptional coincidence. In the European context, the public health hazard associated with the consumption of, or exposure to, poultry meat infected with infectious virus is currently deemed to be very small to negligible.

Proper heating provided, meat products don’t lead to exposure of consumers to HPAI virus. Other than the standard recommendations regarding proper kitchen hygiene in the processing of poultry meat, the preparation of poultry meat and proper heating of poultry meat or poultry meat products, no additional mitigating measures are required.

Addendum dated March 3d, 2021

As human infection with H5N8 avian influenza virus by workers in Russia was reported by the World Health Organization in early 2021, an addendum was added to the advice. The advice remains unchanged.