The American Meat Institute (AMI) has sent a letter to 25 executives at the top television networks around the country to cease the use of the term “swine flu” when referring to the novel H1N1 flu virus, according to AMI President J. Patrick Boyle.

The letter builds on an earlier outreach by AMI to 4,500 radio, print and television health and education reporters and producers across the United States, urging them to use the correct verbiage and to provide balanced and accurate information to consumers about the H1N1 Flu Outbreak Virus.

In the letter to the networks, Boyle notes: “It is not the American Meat Institute’s opinion alone that the inaccurate reporting is harmful. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Director General Bernard Vallat wrote, ‘This incorrect nomenclature has led many countries – at the beginning at least – to impose unjustified ban measures related to the import of pigs and pig products. It should be noted that the name of a disease always has heavy implications and has a very strong impact on the behavior of consumers worldwide.’”

The letter also emphasized the fact that the novel H1N1 flu is a human disease and is not, nor has ever been, a food safety issue.

“Pigs have not played any role in the spread of the virus. We urge you to remind your reporters and producers that continued use of the term ‘swine flu’ is inaccurate and inappropriate and ask that your coverage de-link the virus from pigs or pork. We ask that you refrain from using pig graphics in your reporting as it reinforces the perception that a link has existed between the novel H1N1 virus and pig production – something that is regrettable, inaccurate, yet commonly seen,” Boyle concludes.