Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pork Board: Despite flu outbreak, pork is safe

From the National Pork Board:

Amid public concern about the reports of swine influenza in humans, the National Pork Board wishes to reassure the public that pork is safe and will continue to be safe to consume. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted this statement on its Web site (

"Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe."

The CDC and other health organizations continue to caution that the virus is contagious and is spreading from humans to humans. The CDC has said it has not found any evidence to indicate that any of the illnesses resulted from contact with pigs.

Nonetheless, the National Pork Board is encouraging pork producers to maintain strict biosecurity procedures on their farms.

"We share the concern of the global health community regarding the spread of this disease," said Steve Weaver, a California pork producer and president of the National Pork Board. "To ensure the good health of our animals and for all those who provide care for the animals, we are urging pork producers to be vigilant in taking measures to prevent the spread of this disease."

The National Pork Board also has offered its extensive resources about swine to assist public health officials as they address treatment and prevention strategies.

The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-PORK or check the Internet at

And also this:

Swine flu heightens emphasis on biosecurity

Media reports on a new strain of the swine influenza virus type H1N1 different from any other ever reported in U.S. swine herds serve as a reminder of the need for strict and enforceable biosecurity measured on U.S. pork production operations.

The virus has not been reported to cause illness in pigs in the United States, but it has been associated with illness in eight people in the states of California and Texas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has reported that the same virus may be responsible for outbreaks of influenza in humans in Mexico.

The Pork Checkoff is recommending that pork producers implement biosecurity practices on their farms to prevent that this new strain of swine influenza does not enter the U.S. swine herd and to protect the health and safety of our industry’s workers.

Consider including the following biosecurity practices for your farm:

  • Limit the access of people to essential personnel (farm employees, veterinarians and essential service people);
  • Implement policies that prevent employees presenting signs of flu-like illness from having contact with the pigs or other people on the operation;
  • Prevent access of international visitors or people who have recently returned from international travel, particularly from travel to Mexico, into your operation;
  • Implement a shower in-shower out procedure and the use of farm-specific clothing and footwear for employees entering the barns. At minimum, employees should don farm footwear and completely wash hands and arms before having contact with the pigs;
  • Enforce heightened personal hygiene practices including frequent hand washing for all people in contact with pigs;
  • Establish contact with the herd veterinarian to discuss other biosecurity practices that are merited by this event.

The importance of keen observation of the health and behavior of your animals cannot be understated and the Pork Checkoff recommends that you establish immediate contact with a swine veterinarian if you suspect that a disease may be present on your farm.

More information on influenza can be found in the fact sheet Influenza: Pigs, people and public health. And, additional information on swine influenza and an update on the outbreak reported by the CDC can be found at

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