The federal government launched a new question-and-answer section at www.flu.gov last week to confirm proper food-handling procedures and reassure consumers during the current H1N1 influenza outbreak. The Food Handlers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) reinforce that flu viruses, including H1N1, are not transmitted through food and that no additional food-processing or equipment-cleaning safeguards are necessary.
Although the food industry previously prepared for pandemic avian flu, the H1N1 virus is a vastly different strain. The differences between the two types of flu and the lack of experience with a pandemic flu in general caused confusion within the food industry and among consumers.
IDFA and others in the private sector worked with the government under the auspices of the federal Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Council (FASCC) to clarify several points and recommended adding them to public government communications. As a result, www.flu.gov now includes several commonly asked questions, which have circulated in the food industry and consumer venues, along with the answers.
"We are pleased that the government and industry were able to work together to resolve these issues so that employers, employees, consumers and the public can focus their concerns on appropriate matters, and not worry about non-existent food safety issues stemming from H1N1," said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president and counsel and co-chair of the FASCC.
Read the FAQs here.