Pigs in Okinawa Prefecture, the southernmost prefecture in Japan, may have been infected with classical swine fever (CSF), also known as hog cholera, through leftover food scraps, experts commissioned by the agricultural ministry in Japan said on Jan. 23.
Leftovers, including pork infected with CSF in Honshu, may have caused an outbreak of the disease in Okinawa earlier this month, the experts said in The Japan Times.
The panel conducted a genetic analysis and discovered that the gene type of CSF in Okinawa was similar to the CSF discovered in Gifu Prefecture, a prefecture in central Honshu. It was not an infection that originated overseas, the article said.
It’s important to note that CSF, also known as hog cholera, is only infectious to pigs, and poses no harm to humans. The disease affects only pigs and wild boars.
CSF remains in pork for some time, even after being processed into meat products, unless it is heated sufficiently. This poses no risk to the food supply, but can infect pigs being fed food waste that is not heated to sufficient temperatures.
The farm where the first CSF case in Okinawa was confirmed earlier this month fed pigs with unheated leftovers provided by restaurants and supermarkets, The Japan Times said.
Feeding pigs food waste is not uncommon in Japan. About 260 pig farms in the country use food waste as feed, according to the ministry.
The ministry urged prefectural governments across Japan to ensure pig farms heat food waste properly before using it as feed for pigs to avoid disease spread.
In the U.S., the Swine Health Protection Act regulates food waste containing any meat products fed to swine. Compliance with this act ensures that all food waste fed to swine is properly treated to kill disease organisms.
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