The NPA has described the Daily Mail’s “sensationalist claims” regarding alleged links between poor practice on pig farms and the potential spread of the LA-MRSA bug to humans as “disappointing, misleading and inflammatory”.
Responding in a letter, intended for publication by the newspaper, Association chairman, Richard Lister, said the LA-MRSA claims were “unsubstantiated” and that he looked forward to seeing “greater balance” in future articles.
The chairman’s letter also sought to deliver a measure of truth and scientific reality to the post-publication debate, which has already drawn an equally strong response from the NFU.
“LA-MRSA is an important topic but it is necessary to put the livestock angle into perspective,” wrote Mr Lister (pictured above), going on to quote comments from two of the UK’s leading disease specialists.
“Prof Mark Woolhouse, FMedSci, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, has gone on record as saying: ‘Livestock acquired MRSA is a well-known, but rare, food safety risk. It has been found in food animals, in food and occasionally in people for many years. It must be taken seriously but it has shown no sign of causing a pandemic’.
“Nicola Williams, Professor of Bacterial Zoonotic Disease at the University of Liverpool, has said: ‘Current data does not suggest that livestock-associated MRSA is common among UK pig herds. Even if herds are infected with significant levels of the bacteria, the extent of contamination of meat with MRSA will be much lower than compared to food-poisoning bacteria such as Salmonella, so the risk of transmission to people will be lower’.”