In mid-May, Mexico’s agriculture department announced that the influenza strain that infected more than 4,000 people in 33 countries did not originate from hogs at a Smithfield Foods operation that had been targeted as the source of the A-H1N1 flu virus.

This was welcome news to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), but the organization said in a news release that the damage to the U.S. pork industry from mislabeling the strain “swine flu” had been done.

“Before the flu outbreak,” said Neil Dierks, CEO of the NPPC, “pork producers were losing money, but things were looking up because we were heading into the grilling season. When this flu was misnamed, things went south, and producers’ losses nearly doubled.”

According to figures from the NPPC, the first day of widespread media coverage — April 24 — pork producers were losing $10.91 per pig. After two weeks of reporting on the “swine flu,” pork prices fell dramatically, with producers losing an average of $20.60 per pig, or nearly $8.4 million a day.

Domestic demand dipped in response to the overabundance of coverage of the outbreak, which affected pork prices, as did import bans on U.S. pork imposed by a number of nations, including Russia and China. Many of these bans have since been reversed.

After initial reports of the flu outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said: “This [flu] virus is different, very different from that found in pigs.” Furthermore, on April 26, the World Organization for Animal Health said the H1N1 influenza never should have been named “swine” flu and that there was no justification for the imposition of trade restrictions. The World Trade Organization also took this position.

NPPC and U.S. and world public-health and agriculture agencies repeatedly have pointed out that pork is safe to eat and handle and that flu viruses are not transmitted through food.

“Speculation on the A-H1N1 flu’s connections to the Mexican farm specifically, and to hog farms generally, would be irresponsible and would only bring further injury and pain to pork producers for something that was not of their making,” Dierks said.

This report was published from an NPPC news release on the subject. For more information on the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), go to, or call (202) 347-3600 or (515) 278-8012.