Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pork Safe From Swine Flu

If you enjoy pork like I do, go ahead and enjoy your ribs or that pork tenderloin you were thinking about grilling this weekend. It’s SAFE.

A lot of misconceptions about “swine flu” (or as it is clinically known, the “H1N1 strain”) are permeating the blogosphere. My good friend and training partner Andrew Doria is a meat broker. He asked if I’d post some information about the recent outbreak of the flu “in the name of good health”. Of course, I obliged because I would do anything to help Andrew and being an Iowa boy, I love pork!

Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) advises that you cannot contract this flu by consuming pork. Additionally, USMEF reports that no U.S. pig or any pig for that matter has shown evidence of swine flu during this current outbreak. If swine flu were detected in a pig at U.S meat processing facility, it would be deemed unfit for human consumption by Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) agents from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture present at all meat processing facilities.

Even if an animal was exposed to the virus as a surface contamination, standard food handling and preparation practices (cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit) would kill the virus, as it does other bacteria and viruses.

All of the major meat industry groups have defended pork products including the North American Meat Processors Association, American Meat Institute, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council and the Pork Board. They have all released statements saying that eating pork cannot spread the disease.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issued two statements about the outbreak and the safety of pork and USDA published a “Q&A” about the virus which was quickly picked up by the North American Meat Processors Association Monday afternoon newsletter and posted on its web site.

"It is important to remember that swine flu viruses are not transmitted by food. In fact, cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees kills all viruses and other foodborne pathogens. Eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products is safe," he said.

Backing him up on Twitter, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley tweeted, "U can’t get swine flu from eating pork. Eatup. Regardless of epidemic.”

So, enjoy the pork you were going to grill this weekend without worry! And enjoy the photo. A little direct, but you get the point.

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