SMITHFIELD, Va. -- Smithfield Foods Inc. Sunday reaffirmed that there is no evidence of the presence of A(H1N1) 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 issued this statement following the announcement by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that officials have tentatively confirmed that swine from a herd in Alberta, Canada, have tested positive for H1N1.



Further tests are underway to determine whether the virus in these animals is the A(H1N1) virus which is currently causing illness in humans. The company further noted that the Canadian report stated that Canadian health authorities believe that the swine herd may have contracted the H1N1 virus from contact with a worker at that farm.



In any case, Smithfield does not own or operate hog farms or pork processing plants in Canada, nor does it process Canadian-raised hogs at any of the company's U.S. plants.
The company stressed that this is not a foodborne illness and the American food supply is safe and pork and pork products are safe.



"If it is true that the hogs were infected by human contact, it only underscores the need for proper biosecurity measures -- as in any influenza situation -- to protect against the spread of virus. We will continue to strictly follow rigorous biosecurity practices at all of our 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," the company stated.



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.

SOURCE: Smithfield Foods via PR Newswire.