Random tests find MRSA in Danish and German pork in Sweden

By Gerard O’Dwyer, in Helsinki

- Last updated on GMT

Pigs do not become ill from MRSA, says Olov Aspevall
Pigs do not become ill from MRSA, says Olov Aspevall

Related tags Antibiotic resistance Pork Mrsa Livestock

Pork containing MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) has been detected during random checks by Sweden’s national veterinary institute (Statens veterinärmedicinska) inspectors.

This follows random tests on a range of meat products being offered for sale in various grocery supermarket chains in the Stockholm area in mid-November.

Specifically, MRSA bacteria were found in samples taken from imported Danish and German packaged pork. The results of the check found that MRSA was four times more prevalent in pork imported from Denmark than its German equivalent.

Based on the findings, the agency urged the Swedish government to instigate a national emergency plan to combat the possibility of an "MRSA infection epidemic"​ in Sweden. The agency wants the government to enter in to a long-term partnership with the farming sector to ensure that MRSA does not find its way in to the country’s pig herds, a problem harming the Danish pigmeat sector.

"It will only be a matter of time before pigs in Sweden are infected with the MRSA bacteria unless urgent action is taken. If MRSA bacteria becomes a serious problem in Sweden, farmers, veterinarians, transporters and their families are likely to be considered as the primary risk groups. This increases the risk of infection for the wider population,"​ said Björn Bengtsson, a senior veterinarian and antibiotics expert at the veterinary agency.

The institute’s random testing programme revealed that four out of every 20 Danish packaged pork products contained traces of the MRSA bacteria, while MRSA was found in one in every 20 packaged pork products imported from Germany.

However, the Swedish public health agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) insisted that while the findings were worrying, Swedish consumers were unlikely to fall ill by consuming the infected meat as the risk would be dramatically reduced upon cooking.

"Pigs do not become ill from MRSA. For the public, the risk of infection by contact with, and consumption of, the infected pork meat is slight for people who are in good health. That said, it is unpleasant to know that resistant bacteria exist in the food we buy. In the worst cases, some persons in poor health, when exposed to the bacteria, may contract serious blood poisoning,"​ said Olov Aspevall, the public health agency’s chief physician.

Sweden imported around 142,000 tonnes of pig meat products in 2013. Of this, 33% was sourced from Denmark and 41% from Germany. The veterinary agency maintained that insufficient testing for MRSA was conducted on all imported meat sold in Sweden.

Related topics Meat

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more