Does the H1N1 outbreak mean you have to skip the ham this holiday season?

With H1N1 – or swine flu - continuing to make headlines in the media, many people who traditionally feast on ham are wondering whether it’s necessary to skip pork and go all-turkey or even vegetarian this holiday season.

Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center, said diners should go ahead and enjoy ham at their holiday celebrations.

“You can’t catch swine flu from eating pork or pork products,” said Ms. Sandon, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “Cooking pork to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit kills most bacteria and viruses, including H1N1.”

Raw pork is also safe from swine flu, but individuals handling raw meat of any kind should make sure they wash their hands with soap and warm running water afterwards to avoid spreading bacteria found on raw meat that can cause food poisoning, she said.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear