Pork consumers warned to cook food well

The findings of a 2014 study into Hepatitis E incidence in pork products has been revisited and consumers are being warned to cook their food well as a result. Courtesy of #DSTV403

CAPE TOWN - If you fancy a pork sausage or piece of bacon, make sure you cook it well.

In 2014, a study found traces of Hepatitis E in certain pork products in the Western Cape.

The findings have been revisited and the virus is still present in pigs.

But, consumers are being told there's no need to panic.

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Professor Diana Hardie from the National Health Laboratory Service said a previous study showed Hepatitis E was present in pigs.

"This study was really just to determine whether there were actually contaminated pig products that were actually reaching the shelves and potentially could be responsible for these human infections."

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If contracted by humans, the virus can cause jaundice, loss of appetite and nausea.

In rare cases, it can cause acute liver failure, particularly in pregnant women and patients with a compromised immune system.

The South African Pork Producers' Organisation is trying to allay any fears, saying there was and is no need for a recall of any kind.

Peter Evans, a representative from the South African Pork Producers' Organisation said, "the Hepatitis E virus that they find in the Western Cape.... we must remember this was done over five years ago.

"Research they did was just to see how much was in pork and there were two samples of liver spread containing pork products of the over 140 samples that were sampled, so the level of risk was very low."

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"Part of the SA Pork Producers Organisation endorsed the research we want to make sure that all the pork that goes onto our shelves in our retail stores are safe," said Evans.

Evans said vegetables, fruits, other plant-based foods, as well as shellfish can also be potential carriers of the virus.

While the products tested were taken from supermarket shelves five years ago, scientists say the warnings are very applicable today because pigs are still testing positive for Hepatitis E.


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