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Deadly superbug found in Pork sold at Supermarkets

Pork bought from Sainsbury’s and Asda has tested positive for a livestock strain of MRSA. Laboratory tests on a sample of 97 British-produced pork products sold at UK supermarkets found that three were contaminated with the potentially fatal superbug.

The bacteria, known as MRSA CC398, is resistant to antibiotics and is particularly dangerous to people with compromised immune systems, such as those suffering from another illness. The strain is widespread in Denmark, where 12,000 people are believed to be infected with it and six have died.

Cooking the meat thoroughly will kill the superbug but it can be passed on through poor hygiene.

The findings suggest that the strain of the disease may have passed to British pig herds although the contaminated meat samples may have originally come from imported animals.

The rise of the CC398 variant has been linked to the overuse of antibiotics in factory farming. Emma Rose, of the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics, which commissioned the research said: “If we are to have any chance of heading off this catastrophe, the government needs to put in place basic measures to tackle the spread of this bug and introduce immediate screening of the national pig herd, as well as strict testing of imported livestock and meat products.

“Crucially, we need immediate restrictions on farm use of antibiotics most linked to LA MRSA — particularly the ‘critically important’ modern cephalosporin and fluoroquinolone antibiotics,” she told The Guardian.

The study, conducted by Dr Mark Holmes, director of clinical veterinary medicine at Churchill College, Cambridge, found the superbug in two samples of minced pork from Asda and one from Sainsbury’s.

The government does not screen for the superbug in imported animals, citing a low risk of serious illness.

Asda declined to comment on the findings. Sainsbury’s said that MRSA CC398 was “very uncommon” in British pork and that the company worked with farmers “to ensure antibiotics are used responsibly and are taking advice from leading industry experts”.

How to beat the bacteria

•Cooking pork thoroughly will kill the superbug. NHS Choices recommends cutting into the middle to check that the meat is no longer pink, the juices run clear and it’s steaming hot throughout.

•Harmful bacteria in raw meat can spread easily to anything it touches, including other food, worktops, tables, chopping boards and knives, so it is important to clean these surfaces thoroughly after cooking.

•Hands spread germs, so it’s important to wash them thoroughly before and after cooking.

Source: www.thetimes.co.uk - 4 October 2016