Pork industry rallies to change ‘swine flu’ name

29-04-2009 | |

US officials are said to be reviewing whether to change the name of the ‘swine flu’ outbreak, complaining that a slew of countries were misguidedly banning pork exports from North America.

‘This is not a food-borne crisis. It’s important to not refer to swine flu. It’s important to convey the message that consuming pork will not cause this illness,’ Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters. ‘We’re concerned about safety, but also about the impact on the economy.’

No risk from pork
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) echoed the message that there is no risk from eating pork, but there is every risk of human-to-human transmission.

‘In the public, we’ve been seeing a fair amount of misconception,’ CDC acting director Richard Besser said, stressing that pigs were the origin of only one component of the flu strain now afflicting people worldwide.

Not helpful to pork producers
‘That’s not helpful to pork producers, that’s not helpful to people who eat pork. It’s not helpful to people who are wondering how they can get this infection,’ he said. ‘So we’re discussing, is there a better to way to describe this that would not lead to inappropriate actions on people’s part.’

Russia widened a ban on imports of US meat products to cover pork shipments from 14 states.

Ecuador imposed its own ban on pork imports from Mexico and the United States, joining other countries that have imposed restrictions including China, Thailand, Indonesia and several Balkan nations.

CDC researchers have identified the strain as one of the H1N1 family of influenza viruses-a microbe built from strains circulating among humans, birds and pigs, and whose origins span three continents.

Canadian Pork Council
‘It is not correct to call the current disease ‘swine influenza,” said Jurgen Preugschas, head of the Canadian Pork Council.

‘There are serous misunderstandings which the general public in countries around the world have acquired about the role of pork meat in the transfer of the virus, simply because it is being referred to as swine flu,’ Presugschas said.

Australian Pork Limited
Australian Pork Limited has moved to reassure the Australian public that they have nothing to fear from eating pork or pork products as a result of the swine flu pandemic, stating that consumers can have the “utmost confidence in the wholesomeness and disease free status of Australian pork”.

The APL wants consumers to realise that swine flu is a disease that does not exist in Australian pigs and cannot be transmitted via pork products.

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