Skip to main content

Agriculture: Pigs and Poultry

Volume 693: debated on Monday 9 July 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will initiate surveys of British pigs and poultry to discover the extent, if any, of infection by methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.[HL4601]

There is no current evidence that food-producing animals form a reservoir of infection by methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the UK, and the organism has not been detected in farmed livestock in the UK. Defra has initiated a study undertaken by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency to test S. aureus isolates obtained from bovine clinical submissions for MRSA. This project commenced in the autumn of 2006 and, to date, more than 500 samples have been tested, with no MRSA identified.

The issue of MRSA in other livestock species was discussed at a January meeting of the Defra antimicrobial resistance co-ordination MRSA subgroup, set up to advise on how best the department can contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the role of MRSA in animals.

Members felt that, at present, broadening the scope of work in this area should only be considered after analysis of the current findings relating to humans in the UK with MRSA infections. The particular strain of MRSA (ST 398) occurring in pigs in some other parts of Europe was not reported to have been detected so far in humans in the UK, and this was a key consideration in reaching the decision taken. However, the position will be kept under active review in future, taking into account the latest findings in humans and animals, as well as developments in Europe and elsewhere.

The European Food Safety Authority is also looking at the issue of MRSA in food-producing animals and is considering what surveillance and other actions would be most appropriate for EU member states to undertake to address the issue. The UK is actively participating in the development of these proposals.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will test imported live farm animals together with meat, in particular pig and poultry meat, for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, in the light of the prevalence of this infection in animals and meat in the Netherlands and other European Union countries. [HL4602]

The European Food Safety Authority is currently looking at the issue of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in food-producing animals and is considering what surveillance and other actions would be most appropriate for EU member states to undertake to address the issue. The UK is actively participating in the development of these proposals.

The issue of MRSA in livestock is also kept under review by the Defra antimicrobial-resistance co-ordination (DARC) MRSA subgroup. The subgroup was set up to advise on how best the department can contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the role of MRSA in animals. The DARC assesses priorities for research and surveillance in MRSA, and includes cross-government representation.