USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has begun a series of meetings with government agencies, state animal health and public health officials as well as pork industry associations to share its plans and recommendations in the event of a positive diagnosis of Type A H1N1 in the U.S. swine herd. The plans were developed in close collaboration with the U.S. pork industry.
APHIS has shared its plans with the Agricultural Research Service, the Food Safety Inspection Service and the Centers for Disease Control for responding to an H1N1 positive herd and for enhancing surveillance so that the full federal and state government has the same understanding of the plans. The APHIS plans will also be shared with the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.
According to the National Pork Producers Council, the goals of these plans are to provide stability to the marketplace in the case of a positive H1N1 diagnosis in swine, to protect public health and to gain a better understanding of the impact of influenza viruses in the U.S. swine herd. The plans include herd surveillance, pig movement and communication priorities.
The meetings with state animal health officials will help coordinate actions in their respective states working with swine veterinarians and pork producers to implement on-farm plans. State public health officials will play an additional role if there are swine-associated human cases of H1N1.
An unprecedented effort is taking place across the U.S. pork industry with industry associations and chain partners at retail and foodservices to understand its customers’ concerns and provide them with the scientific information to address those concerns. The NPPC and the National Pork Board have been engaged in a comprehensive program since late April when the H1N1 flu story broke, to correct misunderstandings regarding the relationship between H1N1 and pork products and production.
Finally, according to NPPC, the entire pork supply chain, from producer to retailer, must be comfortable with the plans and understand that H1N1 is not transmitted by eating pork or by handling pork products.