Monday, October 19, 2009

H1N1 Virus in Minnesota Pig: It Could Be Worse

update (October 19, 2009)
You'll find a few personal experiences relating to H1N1 in a discussion thread I started today:
"H1N1 virus confirmed in Minnesota pig"
CNN (October 19, 2009)

"The H1N1 virus has been confirmed in a sample taken from a pig that was displayed at the Minnesota State Fair, the first time the virus has been found in a U.S. pig, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.

" 'We have fully engaged our trading partners to remind them that several international organizations, including the World Organization for Animal Health, have advised that there is no scientific basis to restrict trade in pork and pork products,' Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the statement. 'People cannot get this flu from eating pork or pork products. Pork is safe to eat.'

"The announcement came three days after health officials announced that three pigs that were displayed during the fair had tested positive in a preliminary test for the H1N1 flu virus. Final results on the other two pigs have not been announced.The Department of Agriculture quickly issued a statement saying the food supply is safe...."

I'm not entirely convinced about that "People cannot get this flu from eating pork or pork products." My guess is that Mr. Vilsack is assuming that people cook, boil or grill pork before eating it. Still, short of mind-bogglingly daft eating habits: I'll agree that pork from American producers is almost certainly safe to eat.

I'll grant that I've got a personal stake in this matter. I live in a small town in central Minnesota, and hog farming is a major part of the regional economy.

My assumption of the safety of American pork isn't due to a sort of 'my neighbors can do no wrong' attitude, though. I've talked with people in that business, and related agribusiness specialties. There's a mess of procedures they've got to follow, to ensure that the pigs are healthy and whole when they leave the farm.

But, like any system that involves human beings, bad things will happen now and again. Remember the perturbing case of the poisoned peanuts? (February 26, 2009) Or the sickening case of the bacteria-laden hand sanitizers? (August 4, 2009)

List of posts relating to Swine flu 2009; and list of background resources:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

"Mind-boggling daft" sanitary habits, too. Like not washing after handling the raw meat. But if one observes common sense it shouldn't be a problem.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Indeed.

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