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April 28, 2009

US: Pork industry on back foot over swine flu

The US pork industry has taken a defensive stance over misconceptions that pork products are associated with the spread of swine flu.

The US pork industry has taken a defensive stance over misconceptions that pork products are associated with the spread of swine flu.

A spokesperson for the National Pork Board told just-food today (28 April) that the US industry body is working with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other governmental agencies in a bid to emphasise that pork is “safe to eat”.

“We are working very diligently to reassure consumers that pork products are safe. On the consumer side, we are really just trying to reinforce the government’s message,” the spokesperson said.

The US Department of Health and Human Services has declared a Public Health Emergency and the number of confirmed cases in the US has increased to 44 across five states.

However, no link has been found between pork consumption and the disease, the National Pork Board was keen to highlight.

While the outbreak has been referred to as swine flu, the virus is composed of genetic material from birds, humans and pigs. No US pigs are known to have contracted the disease, the National Pork Board stressed.

“It is not in the US swine herd at this time and we are working with the industry to prevent it infecting US pigs. Various measures, including enhanced biosecurity, are being implemented,” the spokesperson said.

Nevertheless, moves by Russia and China to block pork imports from Mexico and three US states will not be welcome news for an industry already struggling under rising input costs and waning demand.

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