2009-05-07 / Local & State

PA Farm Bureau: Pork Is Safe To Eat

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is alerting consumers to the fact that pork is safe to eat and that there is no evidence linking a new virus to food.

Farm Bureau notes that some consumers may be questioning whether or not to purchase pork products after hearing about a virus originally labeled "swine flu." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have all said the term "swine flu" is inaccurate and misleading because it implies that there is something wrong with the pork industry. The agencies say the virus is not spread by food and that the new strain of influenza should be called H1N1.

"The message to consumers is simple: pork and pork products are safe to eat as long as they are properly handled and cooked. Furthermore, influenza is a respiratory health issue and is in no way transmissible by eating food products," said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer.

Even though there have been no cases of the new flu in animals in Pennsylvania or across the United States, pork producers remain vigilant in their efforts to ensure a safe and healthy food supply. "Food safety and animal health are top priorities of Pennsylvania farmers, who utilize biosecurity measures on the farm to ensure that animals, such as hogs, are well cared for and result in the production of safe food. The biosecurity measures insure that only authorized personal are permitted to be around the animals and that proper procedures have been followed before those people enter animal facilities," added Shaffer.

USDA has a surveillance system in place to monitor animal health and has reached out to agriculture officials in every state to affirm that they have no signs of the H1N1 virus. In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture conducts sample testing of animals on a regular basis to quickly identify and contain potential problems in the industry.

"Getting factual information to the public and the media about the H1N1 virus is critical, because the livelihood of many pork producers could be threatened if people stop buying safe food products due to inaccurate information," concluded Shaffer.

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