Pork industry reacts to swine flu misperception

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — In the wake of an avalanche of news this past weekend about swine flu, its spread and the potential threat it poses in North America, the pork industry has moved aggressively to assure consumers the outbreak is not a food safety threat.

"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," said the National Pork Producers Council, a trade group that represents the industry."

Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, iterated that sentiment when she said there is no food safety issues related to the hybrid flu that has been identified.

Smithfield Foods, Inc., Smithfield, Va., said it has found no clinical signs of symptoms of the presence of swine influenza in the company’s swine herd or its employees at its joint venture in Mexico.

"Those operations are cooperating with Mexican officials to assist in its investigation of the possible source of the outbreak of the disease and will submit samples from its swine herds to the University of Mexico for testing," the company said.

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