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NPPC Briefs US Trading Partners on H1N1 Flu

by 5m Editor
16 September 2009, at 11:43am

US - At a briefing on Monday evening, the National Pork Producers Council told foreign officials that the US pork industry and the US government are gearing up for a return of the novel H1N1 flu and that both would continue to get out the messages that the flu is not transmitted through food (pork) and that pork is safe to eat.

"We’re all dealing with the H1N1 flu in our respective countries," NPPC CEO Neil Dierks told embassy officials from 25 countries at a reception with members of NPPC’s board of directors. "We just need to remember that the flu is not a food-borne illness; you can’t get the H1N1 flu from eating pork."

NPPC has been working with the Office of the US Trade Representative and the US Department of Agriculture to reopen to US pork exports markets that were closed in the wake of the H1N1 flu outbreak, which received wide media attention starting 24 April. While most nations that had them in place have lifted their bans on US pork, China and a few other countries have maintained them, citing fears of H1N1, which much of the media misnamed “swine” flu. China was the third largest US pork export market in 2008, buying nearly $690 million of US pork and pork products.

The pork export bans and a drop in consumer demand in the weeks following initial reports on the H1N1 flu, coupled with rising production costs and a worldwide economic slowdown that began two years ago, have cost the US pork industry more than $4.6 billion. US pork producers lost an average of nearly $25 per market hog and a combined $991 million from 24 April to mid-August.

NPPC’s briefing followed a 9 September briefing by the Obama administration on the US government’s H1N1 response and surveillance efforts for trade officials from 30 countries.