Food Safety Focus (34th Issue, May 2009) – Food Incident Highlight

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Food Safety Focus (34th Issue, May 2009) – Food Incident Highlight

Human Swine Influenza (Influenza A/H1N1) and Consumption of Pork

The recent outbreak of human swine influenza (influenza A/H1N1) in humans first reported in Mexico and the United States has caused much concern worldwide because of its pandemic potential and the occurrence of death cases. As the name suggests linkage with pigs, some people are worried about the possibility of catching the human swine influenza through the consumption of pork.

In relation to food safety, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) issued a joint statement on 7 May 2009 which reaffirmed that influenza viruses are not known to be transmissible to people through eating processed pork or other food products derived from pigs. By cooking meat to a core temperature of 70°C or above will readily inactivate any viruses potentially present in raw meat products. Moreover, pork and pork products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices recommended by the WHO, Codex Alimentarius Commission and the OIE, will not be a source of infection.

Public is advised to apply the 5-keys to Food Safety to prevent food-borne illnesses. Do not buy pork from questionable source. Wash hands thoroughly with warm soapy water immediately after touching raw pork. Clean work surfaces, utensils and equipment that have been in contact with raw pork thoroughly using hot water and detergent. Prevent cross contamination of cooked food with raw pork and keep food at safe temperature. Pork should be cooked thoroughly before consumption with central part of the pork reaching at least 75°C. When eating out, ask the staff to re-cook the pork thoroughly if one suspects that it is not thoroughly cooked.