WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) -- Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says it's safe to eat pork, despite concerns over a swine flu outbreak.
Vilsack says there is no evidence of swine flu in the pig population. He also noted that swine flu viruses are not transmitted by food so it cannot be transmitted by eating pork or pork products.
"The USDA has in place, and did so before the last week's events, a surveillance system to monitor animal health," Vilsack said. "As an additional precautionary measure, I have asked USDA to reach out to agriculture officials in every state to affirm that they have no signs of this virus type in their state."
A marketing specialist from the University of Illinois says the farm markets are already seeing the effects of the swine scare.
"In the first trading session following the announcement of incidences of swine flu in Mexico and the United States, corn, soybean, and wheat futures declined sharply," Darrel Good said. "Market participants reportedly are concerned that the threat of swine flu will reduce pork demand, stimulating further liquidation of hog numbers and resulting in reduced feed demand."
Good also says Russia has announced restrictions on pork imports from Mexico and parts of the U.S.
"The hope is that the initial knee-jerk reaction will be followed by more thoughtful responses. The extent of reported cases of swine flu will be important in determining the depth of demand worries," Good said.
According to the USDA, eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills all viruses and other foodborne pathogens.
Online Producer: Jenn Jarvis