The NPA has moved quickly to put a “sensationalist” Guardian report on LA-MRSA into its proper context, stressing that the disease poses only a “negligible health risk” to the general public.
The original report, carried on the Guardian website, focused on the results of tests on 97 UK-produced pork products, revealing that three samples, sold at Asda and Sainsbury’s, were contaminated with LA-MRSA, which the newspaper said could cause serious health problems.
The Guardian also said it had established that a loophole in import regulations is leaving an open door for MRSA CC398-infected live pigs to be imported from countries such as Denmark.
Describing the reporting as “sensationalist”, NPA chief executive, Dr Zoe Davies, said the issue needed to be put into context, a comment which was supported by the release of a detailed list of action steps which the industry and Government is already taking.
The list includes the following headline points:
- LA-MRSA is of negligible risk to the health of the general public, with the main risk being to agricultural workers with prolonged exposure to livestock.
- Defra and NPA recommend that anyone importing breeding pigs to Britain should have them screened for LA-MRSA.
- The Government is currently reviewing options for increased surveillance of LA-MRSA, which will be proportionate to the very low health risk.
- There is no specific UK or EU legislation for the control of MRSA in companion animals or livestock.
- Government is constantly reviewing the range of surveillance and control options available for new and emerging disease situations, including those involving AMR. Clearly, such measures must be demonstrably proportionate to the risk to human and animal health. LA-MRSA is considered to be of low risk to public and animal health and it is not a food safety concern.
- The presence of resistance to antibiotics in LA-MRSA cannot be directly attributed to malpractice in use of antibiotics.
“Nonetheless, we as an industry need to ensure we do everything we can to minimise the introduction of LA-MRSA into the UK pig breeding herd as these stories can be reputationally damaging,” said Dr Davies (pictured above).
“We therefore strongly urge anyone importing breeding pigs to Britain to have them screened for LA-MRSA.”