April 27, 2009
Consumers can eat pork with no concern for swine fluWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Shoppers should not shy away from pork products over concerns regarding reports of swine flu across the country, said Purdue University experts.
Purdue Extension nutrition specialist Melissa Maulding said the flu virus is not a food-borne pathogen, and there is no risk to the food supply.
"The flu is a virus that is transmitted through interaction with people," she said. "The biggest defense against catching the flu is to wash your hands."
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have indicated that influenza is not passed through food.
Paul Ebner, assistant professor of animal sciences, said that while the current strain infecting humans is an H1N1 virus that is normally associated with pigs, it is not a classic swine virus.
"It has changed, obviously in a dramatic way that has allowed it to more easily infect humans," he said. "Previously there were a few occurrences of humans catching the flu from pigs, but this strain is different."
The Indiana Board of Animal Health confirms that this particular flu strain that is infecting humans has not been identified in Indiana's swine population.
Hog futures fell sharply Monday (April 27) after reports that confirmed cases of swine flu in humans increased over the weekend in the United States. U.S. grains and oilseed prices also fell over concerns that any reduction in pork consumption would result in less demand for feed products to produce that pork.
Purdue Extension economist Chris Hurt said the continuing economic impact on agriculture will depend on how the flu spreads through the human population and how the world responds.
"Swine flu will likely be an ongoing story over the next few weeks," he said. "We'll be watching to see whether other countries restrict pork imports, if the worlds' consumers reduce pork consumption and if the disease is significant enough to further jeopardize already fragile world economic growth."
Writer: Beth Forbes, 765-494-2722, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Paul Ebner, 765-494-4820, email@example.com
Melissa Maulding, 765-496-6849, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Hurt, 765-494-4273, email@example.com
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