What to call it? For pork council, certainly not 'swine flu'

The N.C. Pork Council would prefer you not call it "swine flu."

The industry association for pork producers thinks the colloquial name for the virus being closely monitored by global health officials is inaccurate.

Following the lead of their national organization, they have suggested "North American influenza" — a variant on the other alternative name, "Mexican flu," which has upset some officials from that country.

Officially, the virus is known as H1N1, after two of its proteins, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase.

In an e-mail to Dome, N.C. Pork Council spokeswoman Deborah Johnson said the linkage between pigs and the flu "should have never been made."

"This is not an issue of food safety so we'll keep hammering away with the messages that pork is safe to eat and there is no evidence this influenza subtype is present in pigs," she wrote.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, has backed away from using the term "swine flu," though state officials are still using the term.