Friday, Oct 16, 2009 – The announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday that tests are being conducted to determine if three pigs from the Minnesota State Fair in August are the first confirmed cases of the Novel H1N1 virus in the U.S. swine herd provides an opportunity to stress three important messages:
• Regardless of the outcome of the tests, you cannot get the H1N1 flu from eating pork. Pork and pork products remain safe to eat and handle.
• Scientific studies conducted by the USDA have proven that the H1N1 flu is a respiratory virus, not a food-borne illness, and it is not found in the blood or meat of pigs exposed to the virus.
• The two most important steps you can take to protect you and your family from the H1N1 flu are to wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
“I would like to echo the comments of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack,” said Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board. “People cannot get this flu from eating or handling pork.”
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 www.pork.org.