A story published by the Reuters news wire May 6 quoting an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) has created some confusion about the safety of consuming pork.

Pork remains safe to eat, according to the National Pork Board. The WHO and U.S. food safety and public health agencies continue to stress that the H1N1 influenza A virus is not a foodborne illness.

WHO official Jorgen Schlundt said, “Meat from sick pigs or pigs found dead should not be processed.” What the story didn’t point out was that meat from sick pigs or pigs found dead would never enter the food system.

Agriculture Department meat plant inspectors check every pig, every carcass and every organ to confirm the animal is fit for human consumption. Sick pigs that have made it to the processing plant will not be cleared to enter the food system.

Additional safeguards begin on the farm, says Paul Sundberg, DVM, vice president of science and technology for the Pork Board. He says farmers are ethically committed to producing safe food. Sick pigs are easily spotted and would not be loaded on a truck to market, he adds. And from a practical standpoint, farmers also know that Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors would reject any sick pig and the farmer would not be paid for that animal.

Go to National Pork Board for more pork safety information.