Even though H1N1 Flu Outbreak Virus has not been found in any U.S. swine herds, Pork Checkoff is continuing its crisis management plans.

“As we head into fall, we're working diligently to ensure that if H1N1 gets into the swine herd, it doesn't impact consumer's consumption of pork,” says Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of communications for the Pork Checkoff.

Six Steps

Steps include:

  • Making sure that retailers and consumers continue to understand that pork is safe. Research shows that even if a pig contracts the H1N1 flu virus, the disease does not carry over into the meat, Cunningham says.

  • Working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of USDA and the Centers for Disease Control to take the proper steps should an H1N1 outbreak occur. “Enhanced biosecurity protocols are so critical right now to keep our herds clean,” she adds.

  • Helping pork producers understand how the Pork Checkoff played a role in the recovery from the H1N1 outbreak in the spring. “In any crisis situation, the key is to return to business as usual as quickly as possible,” Cunningham relates. “We were committed to taking the necessary steps to address the H1N1 issue right from the start so producers could continue to sell their pigs and sell pork.”

  • Scheduling webinars with packers, retailers, foodservice, agricultural media and dietitians. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Animal Disease Center will make presentations. The webinars will be recorded so producers can access them at a later date.

  • Offering third-party spokesperson training in September in Des Moines.

  • Scheduling desk-side visits with national media for the week of Sept. 21.

Being able to reach pork producers quickly remains a key component of the H1N1 crisis management plan, she stresses.

“The one thing that would help us greatly is if pork producers would give us their e-mail addresses, which we would only use in a crisis situation like this. Then we can immediately reach them with the information they need,” Cunningham says.

To share your e-mail for this purpose, call the pork Checkoff at (800) 456-7675 or e-mail pork@pork.org.