Superbug Found in British Supermarket Pork

Bug strain has become endemic on pig farms across Europe due to overuse of antibiotics.


A Guardian investigation of 100 pork products this month found that some pork sold in British supermarkets was contaminated by a strain of superbug Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) called Clonal Complex 398 (CC398). A form of bacteria linked to the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms, the infection can be transmitted by handling contaminated meat, or by coming into contact with infected livestock or people. Because it can be killed through cooking, CC398 does not pose an immediate threat to human health, yet experts warn it could escalate into a greater health crisis if authorities don’t address the issue. The bacterium is widespread in pig farms across Europe, and especially Denmark—the largest producer of pork in Europe—where two-thirds of pigs are infected with CC398. In response to this outbreak, Denmark’s Agriculture Minister, Dan Jørgensen, released plans to reduce the use of antibiotics in pig farming 15 percent by 2018. Experts and critics claim the plan doesn’t go far enough, and that they should reduce antibiotic use by 90 percent to have a visible effect.

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