RUMA response to FSA review of MRSA risk, published 28 February

RUMA has welcomed the outcome of a risk assessment published today (28 February) from the Food Standards Agency (FSA). This assesses the risk associated with the preparation, handling or consumption of foodstuffs which may be contaminated with MRSA, in particular Livestock-Associated (LA) MRSA. It concludes the risk is very low and based on this the FSA’s current advice remains unchanged, i.e. that raw food should be stored appropriately, handled hygienically and cooked thoroughly to ensure any harmful bacteria present are destroyed.

Dr Ian Brown, Oxford Consultant Clinical Research Fellow and member of RUMA’s independent advisory Scientific Group, says the review brings helpful clarification in a number of areas concerning LA-MRSA.

“It highlights that current data suggest LA-MRSA infection is rare in humans in the UK and such organisms are not readily transmitted from person to person. To the FSA’s knowledge, there have been no reported food borne outbreaks of LA-MRSA in humans in either the UK or worldwide,” he says.

“Furthermore, the indication is that prevalence of food contaminated with LA-MRSA is low in the UK. LA-MRSA has been shown to enter the food chain and survive on raw meat up to the point of retail, although thorough heat treatment of raw meat is sufficient to destroy LA-MRSA and other vegetative bacteria.”

Dr Brown says that despite the conclusions and reiteration of advice about storing, handling and cooking food, the farming sector – as part of a One Health approach alongside human medicine – will continue to focus on strategies to reduce use of antibiotics and improve hygiene.

“This will minimise opportunities for resistance to antibiotics to develop or for any resistant or other bacteria to pass to humans,” he adds.

Dr Ian Brown is Consultant Clinical Research Fellow at Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals and Chairman of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs