Pork is safe to eat. U.S. pigs are not affected by African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks in other countries, to date.
- ASF does not affect humans and therefore is not a public health threat.
- ASF is a disease of pigs only and therefore is not a threat to pets or other livestock.
- As usual, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has measures in place to prevent sick animals from entering the food supply, including if ASF is detected in the U.S.
- As with any food product, you should always follow safe handling and cooking instructions to protect your family’s health.
African swine fever is a viral disease impacting only pigs, not people—so it is not a public health threat nor food-safety concern.
- ASF cannot be transmitted to humans through contact with pigs or pork.
- ASF only affects members of the pig family.
- ASF can be transmitted to pigs through feeding of food waste containing contaminated pork products. The Swine Health Protection Act regulates the feeding of food waste containing meat to pigs to ensure that it is safe.
- ASF is transmitted to pigs through direct contact with infected pigs, their waste, contaminated clothing, feed, equipment and vehicles, and in some cases, some tick species.
The USDA does not allow importation of pigs or fresh pork products into the U.S. from areas or regions of the world that are reported positive for the ASF virus.
- Restrictions are based on USDA’s recognition of the animal health status of the region and are enforced by the Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service.
- International travelers should be diligent in following all rules and regulations related to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reentry declarations.
Why is ASF not a human health concern?
- According to Dan Rock, Professor of Pathobiology, University of Illinois, most viruses demonstrate some degree of host restriction; they replicate in one cell type or host and not in another. While there are exceptions, this is the general rule, not the exception. In the case of ASF virus, there is no evidence supporting either subclinical or clinical infection of humans.
- The host restriction in ASF virus is likely due to the absence of susceptible and permissive cells needed for viral replication. It could also be related to the inability of the virus to overcome intrinsic and innate host responses generated following ASF virus exposure.
African swine fever virus is a contagious viral disease impacting only pigs, not people, so it is not a public health threat or food safety concern. The World Organization for Animal Health, of which the U.S. is a member, considers African swine fever to be a trade limiting foreign animal disease of swine. Countries with confirmed cases are subject to international trade restrictions aimed at reducing the risk of introduction of the disease through trade. The United States has never had a case of African swine fever and there are strict animal health and import requirements enforced by USDA APHIS Veterinary Services, USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine and Customs and Border Protection to prevent entry into the United States. There is a national response plan for African swine fever that has been developed by USDA Veterinary Services.
In response to the current situation in China and other countries, the National Pork Board has been working closely with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Swine Health Information Center to monitor the situation and collaborate with the USDA. The organizations are working collaboratively to gather intelligence, engage subject matter experts, assess risk and determine appropriate actions moving forward to address the issue. For more detailed information on African swine fever, visit Iowa State University’s Center for Food Safety and Public Health.