Proud of Mexican venture says CEO

A CEO of a major meat processor has written to all his employees after being caught up in the finger-pointing of the Mexican H1N1 outbreak.

C Larry Pope, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods, has told company workers that tests conducted by the Mexican government have proven that no virus, including the human strain of A(H1N1) influenza, was present in its pig herd at Granjas Carroll de Mexico (GCM), its joint venture facility in Veracruz.

Pope said: “These findings, which are consistent with our earlier communications to you, validate what we believed from the very beginning – that the recent subtype of H1N1 influenza virus affecting humans did not originate from GCM.”

Virginia-based Smithfield was accused of being involved in the outbreak in April after an outbreak of respiratory illness in the area near to the farm, partly run by the US firm.

Pope added: “The recent concern over the health and safety of people and animals at farms only helps emphasise how important it is to keep these facilities, both the ones we operate and those operated by others, as secure and environmentally sound as possible. For this reason, Smithfield takes extraordinary measures to maintain rigorous biosecurity procedures at all of our operations worldwide.”

Smithfield reports of an improvement in pork sales in its US business after the initial fears in consumers.

As recently as Friday, the Foreign Office lifted its advice against travelling to Mexico other than essential travel, while in New York this week, a teacher has become the latest person to die from the flu.