Human Swine Influenza and Food Safety

FAQ on Human Swine Influenza (Influenza A/H1N1)

  1. What is Human Swine Influenza? How do we get it?

    Human swine influenza is caused by the influenza A/H1N1 viruses. In this international human swine flu outbreak, human-to-human transmission has occurred. It is thought to spread in the same way as seasonal influenza, mainly through coughing or sneezing. People may also become infected by touching objects soiled with the influenza viruses and then touching their nose or mouth.

  2. Can we get Human Swine Influenza from eating pork?

    Human swine influenza is not transmitted by food. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. The swine influenza virus is killed by temperature of 70°C or above. As a general rule, pork should be cooked thoroughly before consumption with central part of the pork reaching at least 75°C.

  3. What precautionary measures can we observe when handling raw pork?

    As a general precautionary measure, people handling raw pork are advised to observe good personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times. When handling raw pork, avoid touching your face and other body parts. Thereafter, immediately wash hands thoroughly with warm soapy water. Surfaces, utensils and equipment that have been in contact with raw pork should be thoroughly cleansed using hot water and detergent. One should wash hands thoroughly with warm soapy water before and after eating. You may visit the following website for further information:

    "Safety Tips on Handling Pork"

  4. What precautionary measures should we take when we eat out?

    Members of the public should observe the following precautionary measures, including when eating out:

    • Keep hands clean and wash hands properly with warm soapy water. Alcohol-based handrub is also effective when hands are not visibly soiled.
    • Avoid touching mouth, nose and eyes.
    • Cover nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing and do not spit.
    • If you develop respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, coughing or fever , wear a mask and see a doctor right away.

    In addition, remember to wash your hands with warm soapy water before eating and after going to toilets when you eat out.

  5. What measures should food premises take to prevent against Human Swine Influenza?

    Food premises should step up the cleansing and inspection of all the ventilation systems in the premises, pay more attention to food safety and the health condition of staff. Staff should be reminded to observe good personal hygiene and if they develop respiratory symptoms or fever, they should cease work immediately and see a doctor right away. Other food safety and hygienic measures include the following:

    • Step up cleansing, inspection and maintenance for all ventilating systems in the premises, including air outlets, air filters, fresh air inlets and ventilating ducts.
    • Keep the ventilating systems of the premises in operation during business hours.
    • Step up cleansing and disinfection of the walls, floors, utensils, tables, chairs and equipment. Tableware and towels provided to customers should be thoroughly washed before re-used.
    • Provide customers with additional chopsticks or spoons for the common serving of food.
    • All food, beverage and tableware should be stored and covered properly.
    • Provide liquid soap, disposable towels or a hand-dryer in toilets.