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State pork producers say "swine" flu not appropriate name

ST. PAUL - Southwestern Minnesota pork producers asked local school leaders to watch their wording when discussing the current influenza outbreak.

The producers wrote to school superintendents in recent days urging them not to use the phrase "swine flu" in messages they send to school staff and parents, said Charlie Kyte, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

Producers are concerned their industry could suffer if people incorrectly assume the influenza strain - technically called the H1N1 strain, but commonly called swine flu -- means pork is unsafe to eat. Kyte said the superintendents understood the concern.

"Those are their friends and neighbors," he said.

The price of pork has dropped in recent days as the number of reported swine flu cases rises, but there is no known danger to eating pork because of the flu strain.

Still, said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a number of countries, including China and Russia, have imposed U.S. pork import bans.

"These countries that are banning U.S. pork are not just misguided, they are just plain wrong, and I think they know it," she said. "There's no risk from eating pork."

Klobuchar serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

On their minds

Swine flu is the subject of conversation from the local water cooler to Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers and staff in Washington are going about their work and are not in a "panic," but are discussing swine flu developments, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.

"The swine flu comes up at every meeting, but people are still going about their business and that's what everyone else should do as well," the Minnesota Democrat said.

Congressional hearings to discuss swine flu have been held this week.