Deadly superbug found in supermarket meat – what is it and should I be worried?

A deadly superbug lurking in meat has been found in a range of supermarket products – but what exactly is it and what can it do to us?

The dangerous enterococci bacteria can cause problems such as urinary tract infections, and in serious cases enter the bloodstream, affecting both the brain and heart, which can be life-threatening.

And traces of it have been found in British pork such as mince, chops and joints.

Tests discovered that more than ten per cent of products had the strain – which has shown resistance to an antibiotic used to treat serious illness in humans.

Products analysed included some labelled as ‘Red Tractor assured’ as well as numerous organic lines.

Investigators said the news was ‘worrying’ and called for further monitoring.

A joint report by Fera Sciences and World Animal Protection, suggested enterococci is more widespread in the UK than previously thought.

Out of 103 samples taken from organic produce, 13 carried the bug despite organic farmers using less antibiotics on their animals.

Researchers say using antibiotics in animals may raise the risk of transmitting drug-resistant bacteria to humans.

Lindsay Duncan World Animal Protection farming campaigns manager said: “This indicates that antibiotics are being overused in low welfare farms to stop animals getting sick in poor conditions and exacerbating the world’s drug resistance crisis.

“We’re calling on the UK Government to end the routine use of antibiotics on farm animals, as the EU has recently done, and to acknowledge that a reduction in animal product consumption is needed to address the countless issues caused by factory farming,”

Professor emeritus of food policy at City, University of London, Tim Lang, told The Guardian: “These findings suggest that antibiotic use is by no means under control in parts of the meat industry.

“Buying any food is a trust relationship; no consumers have X-ray specs to see what these findings show. There’s no label.”

Laboratory Wickham Labs says enterococci bacteria are found in the intestines of both humans and animals, as well as in plants, soil and water.

The significant human pathogen can cause meningitis, bacterial endocarditis, urinary infections and diverticulitis, an inflammatory condition causing pain in the lining of your digestive system.

Always play it safe when cooking food
Experts recently warned that Brits should be careful when cooking meat as a certain type of poisoning peaks right about now.

Campylobacter is rife in the summer months, with undercooked poultry, meat, eggs and cross-contamination of food the main culprits.

In fact, just a single drop of juice from raw poultry or meat finding its way onto your vegetarian kebab is enough to infect you.

With that in mind, it’s wise to follow these top tips to help keep you and your family safe this summer:

Food Standards Agency top tips
Avoid cross-contamination by never washing chicken or letting raw chicken anywhere near ready-to-eat foods

Good hygiene will help to avoid passing on any bacteria to someone else through food

Make sure meat is steaming hot all the way through

Meat juices must run clear

Remembering the Four Cs
Cleaning – When preparing and cooking food it’s vital the area is clean

Chilling – Any food should be stored properly and only brought out when ready to cook

Cooking – Food should be thoroughly cooked as per instructions

Cross contamination – Makes sure to use different utensils and chopping boards for different meats