Pork is safe to eat, and direct contact with swine is not the source of the hybrid influenza that has been identified in a number of people in the United States and more than 1,300 in Mexico. Further, U.S. pigs have not been infected with the hybrid virus, notes Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USDA.
“The National Pork Producers Council wants to assure domestic and global consumers about the safety of U.S. pork and urges pork producers to tighten their existing biosecurity protocols to protect their pigs from this virus, including restricting public access to barns,” an NPPC statement announced.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:
- People cannot get the hybrid influenza from eating pork or pork products. Most influenza viruses, including the swine flu virus, are not spread by food. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.
- There are no food safety issues related to the hybrid flu that has been identified, according to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.
- Preliminary investigations have determined that none of the people infected with the hybrid flu had contact with hogs.
- This virus is different, very different from that found in pigs.
- The hybrid virus never has been identified in hogs in the United States or anywhere in the world.
- The hybrid virus is contagious and is spreading by human-to-human transmission.
A dozen countries have now reported flu cases. The World Health Organization is reporting that it may increase the risk to level 5, which is associated with widespread human infection and the prospect of it becoming a pandemic. Officials emphasize that the action of changing the risk level allows the WHO to implement programs, emergency responses and funding as needed.