Two hundred government employees downed heaps of pork rinds and fried, tortilla-wrapped meat Thursday at a Labor Department garden party. Waiters in black vests, white collars and blue surgical masks served the lunching workers as they chatted underneath white tents to the soothing tunes of jazz music.
The pork party was part of an Agriculture Department publicity campaign to convince Mexicans it's safe to eat the meat despite swine flu fears.
Although experts say the virus isn't transmitted through meat, plummeting sales have cost the pork industry 2.5 billion pesos ($188 million) since the outbreak, according to the Mexican Confederation of Pork Farmers.
Labor Secretary Javier Lozano said the pig-out was held to demonstrate to "Mexico and the world that it is perfectly safe and very delicious and nutritious to eat pork."
Several countries including China, Russia and Ukraine banned Mexican pork products after the swine flu outbreak.
Introduced by Spanish conquerors, pork is widely popular here and the main ingredient in traditional dishes such as tacos al pastor, a greasy, spit-roasted snack found on street corners everywhere, and pozole, a hominy and pork stew.
Agriculture Secretary Alberto Cardenas said the Mexican government will buy more pork meat to feed soldiers, sailors and state oil company workers in a boost for the industry.