WHO changes tune, now says pork safe to
of Article: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=1576622
safe to eat, the World Health Organization said yesterday, but this
reassurance did little for Canadian pork producers, who say the swine flu
virus is the latest blow to an already battered industry.
Fukuda, acting WHO assistant director-general, told reporters at a daily
news conference in Geneva yesterday that eating pork is safe.
pork does not pose a risk to people in terms getting this infection,"
Mr. Fukuda said.
statement comes the day after Jorgen Schlundt, director of the WHO
Depatment of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Food Borne Diseases, said pork from
animals infected with swine flu should not be consumed by humans. He later
clarified his statement, saying that properly processed pork is safe.
muddled messages do not change the situation for pork producers in Canada,
which is the worst Jurgen Preugschas, 60, has seen in his lifetime as a hog
had just a multitude of shocks, one after the other," said Mr.
Preugschas, who is the chair of the Canadian Pork Council and also raises
about 9,000 hogs on his farm near Mayerthorpe, Alta., northwest of
2000, the Canadian hog industry used to be profitable.
the low Canadian dollar it was easy to compete on the world market,"
Mr. Preugschas said. "We sold at a low price around the world. We
ended up being a low-cost seller for a high-value product."
U. S. dollar collapsed. Input costs for commodities like food and fuel
producers have lost money consistently since the fall of 2006, Mr.
hog producers are selling their animals for about 40 cents per kilogram
lower than expected, which means they lose close to $40 on each animal they
sell, Mr. Preugschas said.
have quit altogether. The industry has lost 28% of its producers since
flu means even more hog producers will leave the business in the next 12
months, said Karl Kynoch, who is the chair of the Manitoba Pork Council and
raises his own hogs near the town of Baldur, southwest of Winnipeg.
will make the difference of whether some producers lose their farms, or go
into bankruptcy, or finally just give up," Mr. Kynoch said. "We
get a lot of producer calls where they just don't know what to do."
swine flu sent prices plummeting, things were starting to look up in
Manitoba, where 900 hog farmers contribute about $2 billion annually to the
provincial economy. Mr. Kynoch said Manitoba producers thought they might
actually make a profit this summer for the first time in three years.
now, what's going to happen, nobody knows," Mr. Kynoch said.
McEwan, an agricultural economics professor at the University of Guelph
Ridgetown Campus, said the hog market actually showed signs of an upswing
in mid-April, until swine flu sent hog prices plummetting again.
China, Russia and at least a dozen other countries have banned or
restricted pork imports, Mr. Mc-Ewan said Canadian consumers are likely to
rally around the pork industry, as they did in 2003 when bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, better know as BSE or mad cow disease, devastated Canadian
time when there is a potential pandemic, and it has the swine flu attached
to it, and you're a pork producer, it raises a concern with consumer
confidence," Mr. McEwan said. "When BSE broke out in Western
Canada, there was a concerted effort and Canadians actually ate more beef.
It's hopeful that Canadians here, now, will respond in the same way."