WHO says DO NOT eat meat from pigs with H1N1 swine flu
May 7, 2009
Meat from pigs infected with the new H1N1 virus shouldn’t be used for human consumption, the World Health Organisation cautioned on Wednesday, adding it was drawing up guidelines to protect workers handling pigs.
The WHO comments appear more cautious than those from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which said import bans are not required to safeguard public health because the disease is not food-borne and has not been identified in dead animal tissue.
The WHO however said it was possible for flu viruses to survive the freezing process and be present in thawed meat, as well as in blood.
“Meat from sick pigs or pigs found dead should not be processed or used for human consumption under any circumstances,” Jorgen Schlundt, director of WHO’s Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Foodborne Diseases.
“While it is possible for influenza viruses to survive the freezing process and be present on thawed meat, there are no data available on the survival of Influenza A/H1N1 on meat nor any data on the infectious dose for people,” he wrote in an email reply to questions from Reuters concerning the safety of pork, respiratory secretions and blood of H1N1-infected pigs.
Schlundt warned people to be cautious with blood and meat-juices from H1N1-infected pigs.
“The likelihood of influenza viruses to be in the blood of an infected animal depends on the specific virus. Blood (and meat-juice) from influenza H1N1-infected pigs may potentially contain virus, but at present, this has not been established,” Schlundt said.
“Nonetheless, in general, we recommend that persons involved in activities where they could come in contact with large amounts of blood and secretions, such as those slaughtering/eviscerating pigs, wear appropriate protective equipment,” he said.
While acknowledging technical questions remain about the conditions in which the virus may be present, Mr Schlundt stressed that the WHO had not changed its basic guidance that pork is safe to eat.
20 countries worldwide had banned imports of pork as of Monday in response to the discovery of the H1N1 flu strain in a herd of pigs on a central Alberta hog farm.
Global trade in pork meat is worth about $26 billion a year.