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Smithfield Says No Sign of Swine Flu at Mexican JVs

by 5m Editor
27 April 2009, at 8:45am

US - Smithfield Foods, Inc. yesterday stated that 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.

Those 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.

The National Pork Producers Council reported that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Homeland Security, "people cannot get the hybrid influenza from eating pork or pork products" and "preliminary investigations have determined that none of the people infected with the hybrid flu had contact with hogs."

NPPC Tries to Calm Consumers

The National Pork Producers Council has said that 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.

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.

Russia Suspends Meat Imports from Mexico and US States

Russia has suspended imports of all meat from Mexico and the US states of Texas, California and Kansas shipped after 21 April on fears of the spread of swine flu, the Russian government's veterinary watchdog said in an announcement posted on its Web site.

The suspension also applies to pork shipped after 21 April from the US states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Florida, and the nations of Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama and El Salvador.

National Pork Board Comments on Swine Influenza

In the meantime, 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 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made 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.

Further Reading

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