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Pathogenic Bacteria Found In Supermarket Sausages And Mince


The ‘superbug’ bacteria Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus  – known as MRSA – has been isolated from samples of minced pork and sausages from several leading supermarkets. The findings have been reported to the journal Eurosurveillance.

Scientists working for the Medical Research Council purchased 103 fresh-meat products (52 pork and 51 chicken) from UK supermarkets in different parts of the country.

A number of the products tested positive for MRSA. Further analysis, using molecular biology methods, revealed that this particular strain of MRSA is not common to the UK but has been detected from other parts of Europe, where it has been reported that poultry are especially vulnerable. Each of the contaminated meat products had been imported.

One of the root causes is the overuse of antibiotics with farm animals. Here, some farmers administer antibiotics unnecessarily to animals, in order to improve meat quality, a practice which leads to a risk of antibiotic resistance emerging, and which poses a risk to both animals and human populations.

The primary risk from MRSA is not from ingestion but to exposed cuts and wounds. Provided the products are handled properly and cooked, the risk to consumers is low. Nonetheless, the report highlights a lack of control in the food chain.

Moreover, the findings highlight the importance of always cooking meat products correctly, for other food poisoning organisms present a risk and some of these can cause harm if ingested. This is particularly important during the summer season when some people like to barbeque food outside. Just because the remnants of a dead animal are burnt with carbon on the outside does not necessarily mean that the inside of the meat has been cooked properly.

The research has been written-up as a report titled “Detection of livestock-associated meticillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus CC398 in retail pork, United Kingdom.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.