H1N1 Influenza Not Considered a Food Safety Risk

CANADA - An associate professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine is assuring the public, it's not possible for people to contract influenza from eating pork, reports Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 11 May 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

A novel strain of H1N1 Influenza A, originally identified in humans in Mexico and initially named swine flu has spread world-wide, prompting several nations to ban the import of North American pork.

Last week a statement issued by a World Health Organization representative and later retracted, which suggested pork from pigs infected with influenza is a food safety risk to humans, added to the confusion.

Dr. John Harding says the discovery of the novel stain in a central Alberta swine has confirmed the virus is capable of moving from people to pigs but influenza does not pose a food safety risk.

Dr. John Harding-Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Sick pigs in this country are not slaughtered for food.

Producers are very good at withholding sick pigs and disposing of them through other means and we have an intact and superb veterinary inspection that precedes the killing of pigs for slaughter.

Secondly just the virus itself.

The virus is contained to lung of the pig and even healthy pigs that may be circulating a virus upon sale, there will not be any virus in the meat or will not be any virus in the blood of those pigs so it is virtually impossible for the meat to be infected with influenza virus by the time it hits the meat counter at the local retail store.

Thirdly, even if it was infected with swine flu which it's not, appropriate handling and cooking would kill the virus so there is no way that this virus ever would pose a food safety issue to the consumer.

Dr. Harding suggests the WHO comment appears to have come out of nowhere without appropriate science to back it up and, although the comment was later retracted, he believes it did harm the Canadian pork industry but hopefully the harm will be short lived.

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