The US pork industry has moved quickly to assure consumers and the trade that its products are safe in light of the Mexican outbreak of swine influenza in the Central American country.
The outbreak has already claimed over 100 lives and cases have also been detected in the US.
“Pork is safe to eat, and direct contact with swine is not the source of, and US pigs have not been infected with, the hybrid influenza that has been identified in a number of people in the United States and more than 1,300 in Mexico,” a statement from the National Pork Producers Council has said.
“NPPC wants to assure domestic and global consumers about the safety of pork and urges pork producers to tighten their existing biosecurity protocols to protect their pigs from this virus, including restricting public access to barns.”
Meanwhile, Smithfield Foods, the leading processor and marketer of fresh pork and packaged meats in the US, said it has found no clinical signs or symptoms of the presence of swine influenza in the company’s swine herd or its employees at its joint ventures in Mexico.
It added that its operations are cooperating with Mexican officials to assist it in its investigation of the possible sources of the outbreak of the disease and will submit samples from its swine herds to The University of Mexico for testing.
“Based on available recent information, Smithfield has no reason to believe that the virus is in any way connected to its operations in Mexico. The company also noted that its joint ventures in Mexico routinely administer influenza virus vaccination to their swine herds and conduct monthly tests for the presence of swine influenza,” a statement said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Homeland Security have said people cannot get the hybrid influenza from eating pork or pork products.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano added that there are no food safety issues related to the hybrid flu that has been identified.