State: Pork safe to eat

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - With the words "swine flu" on the tip of everyone's tongue the Alabama Agriculture Department is reminding everyone that it is perfectly safe to eat pork.

Commissioner Ron Sparks said Tuesday the Department of Agriculture and Industries has implemented its emergency response plan as a precautionary measure in response to the recent outbreak of the swine influenza virus in the United States.

"There are two important things to remember: we have not had a case of swine flu in Alabama pigs and pork meat is safe to eat," said Sparks.  "This is another strain of flu and we don't want to overreact unnecessarily just because it is called "swine flu," but it is something to be concerned about and anyone with flu-like symptoms should contact their healthcare facility."

Sparks and State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier have stayed in constant contact with the Alabama Department of Public Health, veterinarians statewide, the state's diagnostic laboratory system, and the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Frazier says reports of sick pigs in the state of Alabama is a rare occurance, due in part to the decline in swine production across the state over the past several years. Just to be safe, however, the State Veterinarian has ordered the state diagnostic lab system to be aware of the outbreak and to report and test any sick swine for the virus.

Folks who raise pigs in their backyard show call their vet if they have concerns about one of their animals.

"Swine raised in the commercial swine industry are in highly controlled environments under heavy biosecurity for this very reason," said Frazier.  "The swine industry closely monitors these animals for signs of disease.  The likelihood of commercial swine getting sick from this strain is very low, but we are still taking precautions."