USDA and the National Pork Producers Council on Sunday sought to
fight fear with facts as global alarm over an outbreak in Mexico
and in some U.S. states of a hybrid strain of swine influenza in
humans started to spook U.S. pork importers.
Over the weekend Russia suspended meat imports from Mexico and from
several U.S. states.
"According to scientists at USDA and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, swine flu viruses are not transmitted by
food, so you cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork
products," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a
statement Sunday night. "There is no evidence at this time
showing that swine have been infected with this virus," he
"Pork is safe to eat, and direct contact with swine is not the
source of, and U.S. 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," NPPC said in a
statement earlier on Sunday.
As a precaution, NPPC urged pork producers to tighten their
existing biosecurity protocols to protect their pigs from this
virus, including restricting public access to barns.
USDA also ordered extra precations. While affirming USDA already
systematically monitors animal health, Vilscak said, "As an
additional precautionary measure, I have asked USDA to reach out to
agriculture officials in every state to affirm that they have no
signs of this virus type in their state."
NPPC listed the following, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Homeland
- 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
- There are no food
safety issues related to the hybrid flu that has been
identified, according to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.
investigations have determined that none of the people
infected with the hybrid flu had contact with hogs.
- This virus is 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.