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Cooked pork fine - WHO

Fri May 8th, 2009

Health officials stepped in to save the pork industry yesterday, insisting that flu could not be caught from cooked meat.

As the global total of cases soared past 2,000, the World Health Organisation joined with agricultural officials to clarify the risks posed by pigs.

They said sick animals should not be eaten - but that cooking or processing pork should inactivate any viruses.

A statement said: "Influenza viruses are not known to be transmissible to people through eating processed pork or other food products derived from pigs.

"Heat treatments commonly used in cooking meat (e.g. 70degrees C/160degrees F core temperature) will readily inactivate any viruses potentially present in raw meat products.

"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."

In Britain health officials said they continued to prepare for a pandemic as the nation's total number of confirmed cases reached 34. One new case was a further school-child in London.

Another 464 people are under investigation.

The department of health said it expected the numbers to catch the virus within Britain to increase "considerably".

And officials said it would be "complacent" to treat the virus as a mild infection.

A spokesman said: "There is not yet evidence of sustained person to person transmission - that is to say, different people in the community who have no obvious link to each other catching this disease.

"Ten people who are not known to have travelled to Mexico have caught the virus in the UK from other infected people who are close contacts. We can reasonably expect the number of such cases to increase considerably over the coming weeks."

According to WHO, worldwide some 2,371 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in 24 countries, the bulk of them in Mexico, the USA and Canada.

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Tags: Flu & Viruses | World Health | North America | Travel | UK News | Diet & Food

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