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Health: MRSA

Volume 702: debated on Monday 16 June 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will test imported pig and poultry meat for methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus in view of the infection in four European Union countries; and whether they will begin taking sample tests of live pigs and poultry in Britain, together with meat for retail sale. [HL4035]

We have no plans to test imported pigs, poultry and their meat for methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus. The FSA has not previously conducted any surveys for the presence of MRSA in raw meats (whether imported or home-reared) at the point of retail sale. At present, the FSA does not intend to conduct such a survey as the results would not change policy advice on the handling of meat.

The UK is taking part in an EU-wide survey which includes testing for MRSA in breeding pig herds, running from January to December. The issue of MRSA in other livestock species is actively monitored by the Defra Antimicrobial Resistance Co-ordination (DARC) group. At present, there is no evidence that food-producing animals form a reservoir of MRSA infection in the UK and the organism has not been detected in farmed livestock in the UK. The sub-group concluded that broadening the scope of work in this area should only be considered if recommended by colleagues specialising in public health and that, in the absence of such recommendations, speculative investigation of other species for MRSA was not an appropriate use of the limited resources available.