Wednesday, 24 June 2015

MRSA in the food chain

The news are rather alarming.

A Guardian investigation has revealed the presence of a strain of the potentially fatal, antibiotic-resistant superbug MRSA in pork chops, bacon, and gammon sold in leading British supermarkets. Of 100 items tested nine were found to contain the bug. Eight were imported from Denmark.

Separate tests, carried out on behalf of a campaign group, the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, have also identified three strains of MRSA in British pork mince and sausages. The evidence that the human health risk of factory-farmed pork can no longer be brushed off as theoretical or hysteric. It’s on our plates, right here and now.

MRSA is the antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus Aureus strain that has caused deaths in hospitalised patients.

This is the 1st time that has been found in food, outside hospitals.

Of all of our livestock, pigs and chickens are the most drugged-up. The use of antibiotics as growth-promoters has been banned by the EU since 2006. But to please supermarkets, keep prices low and reduce production costs, animals must be packed into sheds, their feed often routinely medicated with antibiotics in a vain attempt to keep a lid on the inevitable health problems cooked up by keeping livestock in fundamentally inhumane and often insanitary conditions.

The presence of MRSA in food chain poses some serious questions on the abuse of antibiotics in the farming industry.

The discovery of MRSA in pork underscores the urgent need for a legally binding timetable to phase out routine, prophylactic use of antibiotics in farming. A tax on farmyard antibiotics has also been mooted as a fiscal measure that might curb use. For those of us who buy meat, we have to ask ourselves one question. Are we willing to pay a bit more for it, to help prolong the ability of these vital drugs to save not only our lives, but also those of future generations?

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