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The Society of Food Hygiene and Technology

Swine Flu: an update for our members

With the recent news about swine flu, SOFHT has prepared a short information note on the potential food safety risks.

Why is this called swine influenza?
The virus associated with the human cases in Mexico and USA have characteristics from a number of influenza viruses found in pigs, birds and humans. There are no reports of the virus which is currently causing disease in humans being found in pigs but it is thought to contain parts of the virus from pigs, it now appears to be transmitting from human to human direct.

Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products.

Is it safe to eat pork meat and pork products?
Yes. Swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs. The swine influenza virus is killed by cooking temperatures of 70oC, corresponding to the general guidance for the preparation of pork and other meat. Swine flu is not a food safety issue.

What is the government doing?
There is continual surveillance of pigs in this country by the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) and there is currently no evidence of this variant of the disease. The Food Standards Agency is yet to provide advice but when it has commented previously on bird flu, it has stated that it is not a food safety issue. We expect them to do the same with swine flu.

EU rules do not permit the importation of live pigs from either the US or Mexico and do not allow the personal import of meat or meat products from either the US or Mexico.

What should you do?
You should ensure that food preparation and hygiene practices are carried out in line with your HACCP plans, this includes hand washing and equipment sanitation as this will reduce the risk of passing on all bacteria and viruses.

If you have further questions or enquiries, please contact the SOFHT helpline on 08444 77 11 61 or email sofht@nsf-cmi.com

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