The Tri-National Agriculture Accord has approved a statement introduced by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and signed jointly by agricultural leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada, that calls on all media and citizens from North America to properly identify public health threats with names that avoid public confusion and unwarranted backlash to other industries. Specifically, the joint statement references the inaccurate use of the term “swine flu” when referring to the H1N1 flu virus. This inaccurate label has caused major problems for the agriculture industry in all three nations.
“The media referring to the H1N1 virus as ‘swine flu’ is like a judge calling an innocent man guilty – it is wrong and must not continue,” Commissioner Staples said.
Part of the statement reads: “The media practice of identifying new or existing diseases of public health concern with technically incorrect names had resulted in confusion among consumers, market and trade disruptions and significant losses to the agricultural industry. The most recent example of this is the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic in humans that has been incorrectly labeled as “Swine Flu.” This has contributed to the collapse of the pork industry. As we prepare for the distribution upon availability of the H1N1 vaccine in advance of an expected resurgence of the virus, academics, public health officials and the media need to refrain from the mischaracterization of the disease.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the H1N1 influenza virus is not transmitted by food. You cannot get the flu from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork is safe, and all Americans can be confident when consuming these products. The U.S. has a surveillance system in place to track animal health and protect the nation’s food supply.
Commissioner Staples presented the statement to members of the Tri-National Agriculture Accord, which met last week in Winnipeg, Canada. The accord is a longstanding organization of senior state and provincial agricultural officials of the United States, Canada and Mexico existing to work collaboratively on agricultural trade and development issues. To read the complete statement, visit www.TexasAgriculture.gov.