The Canadian government is again confirming that pork products from Canada are safe to eat, despite an earlier warning by the World Health Organization.
“Canadian pork is safe. There is no danger,” says federal Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, who earlier this week handed out pork sandwiches on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
This week WHO officials reported that the swine version of the H1N1 virus may be able to survive in the meat and blood of infected pigs, even after freezing. It agreed that influenza A H1N1 could not be transmitted if pork is properly cooked and prepared, however, the organization cautioned against eating meat from animals affected with swine flu.
That warning has meant more frustration for Canada’s pork industry, which has already been hit by a ban on Canadian pork by 10 countries since an Alberta pig herd was found to have the virus. The pigs on that farm remain under quarantine, and the virus is contained.
Canadian Pork Ban
Despite the warning and the bans, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says there is no threat to our food system. Diseased or dead animals are not slaughtered in Canada, and slaughterhouses perform clinical pre-assessments of all animals. Further checks in processing facilities ensure that meat from sick animals never makes it to market.
As of May 8 Canada has had 201 human cases of the virus, in Ontario, B.C., Quebec, Nova Scotia and Alberta.