(AP) Smithfield Foods Chief Executive C. Larry Pope said in a letter to employees Thursday that no virus, including the H1N1 virus, was found in tests by the Mexican government on its pig herd at Granjas Carroll de Mexico, a joint venture it runs with a Mexican company.
Pope said the findings "validate what we believed from the very beginning," he wrote, that the strain of H1N1 virus affecting humans did not originate from the plant.
The world has been grappling since April with the possibility of a pandemic of swine flu that may have originated in Mexico. On Thursday, vaccine makers and health experts met at the World Health Organization to discuss the virus.
As of late Thursday, more than 6,600 people have been infected worldwide and 69 have died, including 64 in Mexico and three in the United States. U.S. health officials have said the H1N1 virus cannot be contracted by eating pork that is properly cooked but is transmitted among people.
Pope said the company's products are safe and reliable. He said some consumers have cut back on pork consumption because of the scare, but they are resuming buying it as officials make clear that the virus cannot be contracted from eating pork.
"I am happy to report that we have seen an improvement in pork sales in our U.S. business," he wrote. "We expect this trend to continue."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.