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Two more reasons to go veggie Fears grow that MRSA variant has entered food chain

Von: Old Codger (oldcodger@anyoldwhere.net) [Profil]
Datum: 04.06.2008 19:36
Message-ID: <uekd44t41qt3e39hc0omjimajrseofqj5h@4ax.com>
Newsgroup: sci.agriculture.poultry uk.rec.fishing.coarse uk.business.agriculture uk.rec.gardeningscot.birds uk.rec.birdwatching uk.environment.conservationtalk.politics.animals alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian


Posted 3 June 2008
Two stories emerged today that should persuade any meat-eater that
adopting a vegetarian diet is the sanest solution. The Times reported
that, in order to free up for human consumption the mass quantities of
grain that are currently fed to farmed animals, a solution has been
offered: feed pigs to chickens and chickens to pigs. It seems
perfectly clear that feeding animal parts to one another is an
accident waiting to happen. BSE – caused, or at least amplified by,
feeding animal parts to cows – has caused the deaths of more than 160
people and exacted an extraordinarily high financial cost. Given that
pigs can and have become infected with H5N1 bird flu from chickens,
the feeding of one species to the other seems particularly short

The second news item appeared in The Independent. Three Britons have
been infected with a new variant of the superbug MRSA, which is found
in factory farmed pigs. The fears are that, because none of those
infected works with pigs, the ST398 strain has now entered the food
chain. A 2006 survey conducted in the Netherlands found that 20 per
cent of pork products, 21 per cent of chicken products and 3 per cent
of beef contained traces of MRSA. DEFRA has begun testing British pigs
for the superbug but has not yet published results. Richard Young,
policy advisor for the Soil Association said: ‘We suspect that MRSA
has now been found in British pigs.’

From The TimesJune 3, 2008

EU food chief: Lift BSE ban to cut grain prices

Valerie Elliott, Jill Sherman and Richard Owen
The EU ban on the use of animal remains to feed pigs and chickens
should be lifted so that grain can be diverted to millions of starving
people, one of Europe’s top food safety advisers has told The Times.

Patrick Wall, chairman of the European Food Safety Authority,
questioned whether it was “morally or ethically correct” to feed grain
to animals in the midst of a global food crisis.

He said that there was no scientific reason to maintain the ban.

More than 40 heads of state meet at an emergency UN food summit today
to draw up an action plan over soaring food prices, which have led to
riots in Haiti, Egypt, Mexico, Tanzania and Morocco. Prices for
staples such as rice, soya and wheat have risen 83 per cent in three
years, making them unaffordable in the poorest countries.

Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, said that governments were
paying the price for failing to invest in agriculture. This had led to
an “alarming juncture” that could trigger economic and political
crises, he said.

The EU ban was imposed after the BSE crisis in Britain in 1996, when
the disease was linked to livestock eating animal products. Professor
Wall said that it was now safe to lift the ban.

The European Commission is considering a plan to allow pigs to be fed
poultry trimmings and chickens to be given pig meat to save farmers
from buying expensive grain and have asked for Professor Wall’s
advice. He told The Times: “Soya meal and other grain prices are going
through the roof. Is it morally and ethically correct to be destroying
this food when people are starving? No one I know is worried about the
science. There is only concern about consumer reaction.”

A spokesman for Defra said that it was awaiting formal advice from the
European Food Standards Agency. “We would only support the proposal if
we were satisfied that there was no risk to human health and that
appropriate and effective testing had taken place to control the use
of such proteins in pig and poultry feed,” it said.

World leaders at the three-day summit in Rome will discuss short-term
solutions, such as increasing cash aid, and strategies to deal with
the effects of climate change, the growing demand for biofuels and the
crumbling agriculture sector in much of the developing world.

Gordon Brown said that the food crisis should be one of the top items
at the G8 summit in Japan next month. He indicated that the EU’s
target to boost biofuels should be reviewed.

Aid agencies called for urgent action on trade liberalisation, biofuel
targets, GM crops and cash aid.

Statistics from Brussels showed that the price of food was continuing
to rise. Dairy products rose 14.9 per cent across the EU and 15.7 per
cent in Britain. Cooking oils rose by 13.2 per cent in the EU, and
bread and cereals by 10.7 per cent.Food prices in the EU have risen by
31 per cent since 1996.

Fears grow that MRSA variant has entered food chain
By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday, 3 June 2008

British people have been infected for the first time by an animal
variant of MRSA, the hospital superbug that infects more than 4,000
patients a year.

Scientists revealed yesterday that three patients in separate
hospitals were infected with the ST398 strain, which is found in
factory-farmed pigs in the Netherlands. None of the humans had a close
association with farm animals, raising the possibility that the
superbug has entered the food chain.

Most cases of the ST398 strain have been spread to people in close
contact with animals such as farmers, vets and abattoir workers, but
cooks may be infected if bacteria on their hands entered a cut or a

MRSA has been found in pigs in the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and
Germany and in other farm animals such as chickens and cattle. The
strain – which has caused skin infections and rare heart and bone
problems in humans – is believed to have spread among pigs that were
fed antibiotics to spur growth and protect them from disease. A survey
by the Dutch authorities in 2006 found traces of the bug in 20 per
cent of pork products, 21 per cent of chicken meat and 3 per cent of

No cases have been found in UK livestock but the Soil Association
called for Britain to start testing meat because two-thirds of
Britain's pork is imported from Holland. Professor Richard James, of
the Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections at Nottingham
University, backed the call. "It is a concern. We need people testing
pork to see if it's there," he said.

The Food Standards Agency said that the bug should be eradicated by
good hygiene and urged people to wash their hands and surfaces after
handling meat.

All three patients, who were being treated in at least two different
Scottish hospitals, recovered. Confirming the cases, Dr Giles Edwards,
director of the Scottish MRSA Reference Laboratory, said: "A lot of
the patients who got this infection in Holland and Canada have been
people who work with animals, such as farmers and vets. But none of
the three individuals in Scotland have been in contact with animals,
not that we could find."

The Soil Association called on the Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs to publish interim results of its testing for MRSA
in pigs. "We suspect that MRSA has now been found in British pigs,"
said the policy adviser, Richard Young.

"ST398 is no more serious than existing strains of MRSA, but it is
resistant to different antibiotics, and where it is present it will
make it harder for doctors to select an effective drug quickly. In
some cases, that could be the difference between life and death."

The Food Standards Agency said it did "not see serious food safety
issues". It advised cooks to wash their hands thoroughly; to cook and
chill food properly; and avoid cross-contamination.

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