Food Safety Facts - H1N1 Flu Virus

What is H1N1 flu virus?

H1N1 flu virus is a respiratory illness that causes symptoms similar to those of the regular human seasonal flu. The symptoms include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, coughing and sore throat. Some people with H1N1 Flu Virus have also reported vomiting and diarrhea. Additional information about influenza and human health is available from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Does the H1N1 flu virus pose a risk to food safety?

No. Influenza viruses do not affect the safety of properly cooked pork, according to the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. As with any raw meat, pork should always be properly handled and cooked to eliminate a range of food safety concerns.

Furthermore, transmission of the virus on food products (canned, packaged and fresh produce) that may have been shipped from affected areas is highly unlikely because influenza is not a foodborne disease. As a general precaution against foodborne illnesses it is always recommended that all food products be properly handled and prepared.

Can people become infected with the H1N1 flu virus by handling raw pork?

No. There is no evidence to suggest that touching raw pork can lead to influenza infection. However, the following precautions should always be taken whenever meat is handled:

  • Clean - Before and after preparing pork, wash hands, cutting boards, knives and countertops with warm soapy water.
  • Separate - Keep raw pork and pork products – and their juices – separate from foods that won’t be cooked.
  • Cook - Cook pork and pork products to safe temperature. Health Canada recommends cooking pork to a temperature of 71°C (160°F).
  • Chill - Keep food cold to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Put leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours of eating.
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