ROME (Reuters) - The United Nations food agency said Thursday there was no justification for culling pigs or limiting their movements because there was no evidence the influenza A virus affected pigs or made their meat dangerous.
“Stepping up swine influenza control measures in pigs, in the absence of the A/H1N1 virus, such as control of movements and culling, is not justified,” said Joseph Domenech, chief veterinary officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The U.N. agency said it had agreed with the World Health Organization and World Organization for Animal Health to “no longer refer to ‘swine flu’ but instead to ‘influenza A/H1N1.'”
The Rome-based FAO said in a statement there was no evidence to suggest the virus was “circulating in pigs in Mexico or anywhere else in the world.”
“Given current facts and scientific understanding, consumption of pig meat does not bring any increased risk to the consumer,” said Domenech in the statement.
He recommended surveillance of disease in pigs be reinforced “to detect, identify and monitor any new event which could be related to this new A/H1N1 virus circulation in humans.”
The flu outbreak has killed 176 people in Mexico and one in the United States. There have been confirmed cases as far apart as New Zealand, Britain and Israel but no fatalities outside North America so far.
Despite advice that the virus is not caught from eating pork products, several countries have banned pork imports from the United States. Egypt has ordered a mass cull of pigs over the flu scare, something the FAO has termed “a real mistake.”
Reporting by Stephen Brown; editing by Robert Woodward