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Home » From the Commissioner

From NH Ag Weekly Market Bulletin

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (November 22, 2009)
Lorraine S. Merrill

Lorraine S. Merrill

NH Department of Agriculture, Markets, & Food Weekly Bulletin

(Excerpted from the Commissioner’s column)

With the horse long out of the barn, major media outlets recently agreed to stop using the swine word when talking about the flu pandemic. Pork producers have been vying with dairy farmers as this year’s biggest agricultural money-losers—with boneless center-cut pork chops selling for $1.99 a pound in New Hampshire supermarkets—thanks to the media’s penchant for calling the new H1N1 flu ‘swine flu.’

From the earliest stages, medical scientists explained this novel strain of influenza is a blend of swine, bird (avian) and human origin genes. Uninformed consumers feared getting sick from eating pork, and stopped buying it. Thirty countries banned U.S. pork imports for the same reason. All but eight have now lifted those bans, with China announcing late last week that it would reopen its doors to American pigs and pork. State departments of agriculture and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack are emphasizing to the public that the pandemic flu virus is not a food-borne illness and can not be spread by eating pork or poultry.

Calling the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus currently circulating in humans “swine flu” has led to public confusion about the health of swine and the perceived health risks associated with swine. The World Health Organization and others have stated the illness is not spread through eating meat or meat products.

USDA has said there is no evidence to date that pigs are playing any role in transmission of H1N1 flu. USDA has implemented a swine influenza virus surveillance program in cooperation with state departments of agriculture and industry groups.    Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner

Nov. 4, 2009