The world’s largest pork producer is facing legal action over claims conditions at one of its pig farms allowed swine flu to develop.
Smithfield Foods has been accused of rearing pigs in “horrifically unsanitary” conditions which were ideal for the deadly virus to be created and circulate.
The legal action has been launched by the family of Judy Dominguez Trunnell, the first American woman to have died from swine flu earlier this month.
Last month it was discovered that one of the earliest cases of the disease was detected near the firm’s pig farm in La Gloria, Mexico,, where 1m swine are reared each year.
Residents had long-complained the smell and vast amounts of manure created by the farm had made them ill.
Mrs Trunnell’s family are claiming wrongful death and has submitted a legal petition to investigate claims the outbreak began at the farm and conditions there inadvertently created an infectious disease.
The petition claims H1N1 may never have been introduced if Smithfield had taken better care of its farm.
So far there is no evidence the disease originated in pigs and the herd at the unit in La Gloria has been cleared of having the disease by government scientists.
Only one pig herd in Canada has tested positive for the virus after being infected by a farm worker.