May 7, 2009

WHO Says Infected Pork Not Safe

Really. They did, via Reuters:
Meat from pigs infected with the new H1N1 virus shouldn't be used for human consumption, the World Health Organisation cautioned on Wednesday, adding it was drawing up guidelines to protect workers handling pigs.

"Meat from sick pigs or pigs found dead should not be processed or used for human consumption under any circumstances," Jorgen Schlundt, director of WHO's Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Foodborne Diseases.
  • Flu viruses can survive freezing, be present on thawed meat
  • Blood of H1N1 infected pigs may contain virus
  • Meat from sick pigs or pigs found dead must not be consumed
The idea that the flu virus can survive on packed pork is implicit in the CDC guidelines:
Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.
While the CDC claims that you can't get H1N1 from EATING pork, even they don't say you can't get it from HANDLING pork. And they feel the need to observe that properly cooking pork will kill swine flu, which suggests they admit the possibility that the flu virus could indeed be on the meat.

But now the WHO is coming out and actually saying infected meat isn't fit for human consumption at any temperature. Luckily you can tell infected meat just by looking at it. Wait. How exactly are you supposed to recognize infected meat? Hmmmm... I wonder what USDA Chief Tom Vilsack and CEO Larry Pope of Smithfield have to say about this.

Photo by Mark Busse used under a CC license

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