SMITHFIELD, Va., April 28, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- Smithfield Foods, Inc. (NYSE: SFD) today reiterated its prior statement that it has found no clinical signs or symptoms of the presence of North American influenza in the company's swine herd or its employees at its joint ventures in Mexico. As previously announced, those operations are fully cooperating with Mexican officials and are submitting samples from their swine herds to confirm the absence of North American influenza.
The company noted that its joint ventures in Mexico routinely administer influenza virus vaccination to their swine herds and conduct routine testing. Those operations have initiated the process of voluntarily submitting new samples from their swine herds for genetic sequence analysis and initial results are expected by week's end.
Smithfield also said that there is no evidence of the presence of North American influenza in any of the company's swine herds or in its employees at any of its worldwide operations, including those in the United States.
The company reiterated the statements made by health and agriculture officials in the U.S. and other agencies that pork is a safe food.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe." The CDC continues to caution that the virus is contagious and is spreading from humans to humans and said it has not found any evidence to indicate that any of the illnesses resulted from contact with pigs. In addition, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack reassured the public that there is no evidence at this time showing that swine have been infected with North American influenza.
As authorities in Mexico and elsewhere seek to find the cause of the North American influenza outbreak, Smithfield continues to strictly follow rigorous biosecurity practices at its operations, including limiting farm access to essential personnel, preventing farm access to personnel who have recently returned from international travel, and following personal hygiene practices and procedures, such as frequent hand washing and the use of farm-specific clothing and footwear.
According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), "It is not correct to call the current disease 'swine influenza'. The virus that is circulating includes genetic components of human, avian and swine origin. The OIE proposed to refer to this new virus as 'North American influenza', using the same approach to nomenclature as used with the Asian influenza and Spanish influenza outbreaks that have occurred in the past."
With sales of $12 billion, Smithfield Foods is the leading processor and marketer of fresh pork and packaged meats in the United States, as well as the largest producer of hogs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com.
SOURCE Smithfield Foods, Inc.
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