The recent brouhaha over the Swine Flu Virus gave pig growers a few weeks of sleepless nights. Although the virus got its name from a weird combination of the Avian Flu, a Pig Virus, and a Human Virus (much like “Chimera” in John Woo’s Mission Impossible 3), our livestock hardly has anything to do with it!
The world sort of heaved a collective sigh of relief when international media finally re-labeled swine flu as A(H1N1).
Good riddance to the earlier name because swine flu is NOT spread by food!
Although the virus itself can, theoretically, be carried by the pork we eat, no incidence of this was ever proven.
In any case, cooking pork properly can eliminate just about every bit of the virus. Ironically, it is the people transporting pork from one place to another— rather than consumers—who are more at risk due to more human contact through several logistic ports.
But really, what can we do to prevent these outbreaks? Are there really simple solutions?
Most people tend to think that the only way to avoid catching the virus is to wear face masks. This offers some protection largely because most viruses are in the Nanometers range. (Basically, around 10,000 viruses fit into the width of human hair).
In contrast, most surgical masks tend to have holes in the Micrometer range. (Around 200 mask holes fit into the width of human hair).
An even easier way to prevent the spread of the disease is to wash your hands properly. See, bacteria and viruses can live for a limited time on objects and surfaces.
Most often, people who are sick will leave behind a trail of their virus on the objects they touch.
Washing your hands prior to eating a meal or touching your face will lower the possibility of transmission of, not only viruses, but just about any disease for that matter.
Of course, the best way to keep a virus at bay is to eat the right food for good health!
Unlike Ebola, there seems to be a very limited range of the population that is susceptible to A(H1N1).
Most of these are the elderly, young people, and people who are on medication that compromises their immune system.
In the food business, we call these groups “highly susceptible populations” and a lot of care is given to the food served this segment of the populace.
We get a lot of inquiries from friends regarding what food to eat. Our rule of thumb is simple: Eat as much variety as you can.
Getting a wide variety of food allows our bodies to get a wider range of the nutrients we need, both in large amounts (such as Carbs and Proteins) and trace amounts (Vitamins, Zinc, and Iron).
I guess we can say that Health = Genetics + Food Variety. Keep eating and stay healthy!
Print ed: 07/09