As if the economy wasn’t bad enough. The emergence of the H1N1 influenza and its unfortunate naming could mean tough times are ahead for the pork industry in the U.S.
In order to help mitigate the situation, several agencies of the U.S. government have been asked to cease using the term “swine” flu.
In a telephone briefing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy secretary said the federal government, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies will use 2009 H1N1 flu.
The World Health Organization, said the North American Meat Processors Association in a memo, will use influenza A H1N1.
The influenza has hit the U.S. pork industry and other meat industries hard, as major export markets, including China and Russia, suspend imports from the U.S.
An agricultural economist at Purdue University in Indiana says it could take the U.S. pork industry weeks or longer to recover from these recent export restrictions.
In a release posted on the university’s site April 29, Chris Hurt points out that more countries are following China and Russia by limiting their imports. Also there are consumers worldwide who are linking the word swine to pork, even though this influenza strain didn’t come from swine.
It’s the public’s misunderstanding of the virus that the pork industry is feeling right now, explains Hurt. No new H1N1 cases have been reported in pigs and properly handled and cooked pork is safe to eat.
He went on to say: “The concerns are that ‘swine’ flu could reduce U.S. pork exports, that U.S. consumers could reduce pork consumption and, more broadly, that the flu could cause a slowing of world economic growth, which reduce demand for food products in general.”