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Food Does Not Spread the Flu

Por Carola Sixto -

Neither food nor tap water or pork meat can transmit the H1N1 virus. Personnel from food establishments cannot spread the disease either, but shouldn’t go to work if they have any symptoms. 

Influenza A is sparking all sorts of questions about the way it’s spread. While this pandemic is new and many studies are being currently performed to gain a better understanding of it, there are certain things you should know and put into practice. One important aspect involves food. According to, a site created by the U.S. Government to gather useful information about the disease, the flu isn’t spread through food, raw or cooked. The virus is spread when someone sneezes or coughs and is transmitted through inhalation or by touching a contaminated surface and then having direct contact with the mouth, nose or eyes.

There is no need to modify cooking times or cooking temperatures for any food. This includes pork and its derivatives. The H1N1 pandemic virus is not spread through food; it is a respiratory illness.

Tap water isn’t a problem if it has been subjected to disinfection procedures. Although there are no studies verifying the susceptibility of water to the H1N1 virus, recent research confirmed that the chlorine levels generally used are adequate to inactivate the pathogenic H5N1 virus of avian influenza or “bird flu”.

What If the Waiter or the Cook Is Sick?

Food safety is not at risk if a food industry worker is sick. The normal cleaning and disinfecting procedures can effectively destroy the virus. However, since influenza viruses can survive on surfaces for two to eight hours, hygiene is essential.

Recommendations are very specific on this matter. Federal law requires that workers who develop any symptoms such as fever, runny or stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and muscle aches should stay home and not go to work until 24 hours after the fever is gone.  

If there is a case of flu in the family of an employee, he/she can still go to work. However, it’s even more important to be aware of symptoms and take all necessary precautions, like washing hands repeatedly with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.


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