Don’t let MRSA spoil International Bacon Day

Subjects: Animal welfare, Human health

Tomorrow is International Bacon Day, but when you rush out to buy your packs of salty goodness, think twice about where the bacon you put in your shopping basket has come from.

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International bacon day this Saturday comes only days after the Danish government reported 105 new human cases of the multi drug-resistant pig strain of MRSA (CC398) in July, the highest monthly figure ever.

In the UK half of all the bacon comes from Denmark and the Netherlands, from pigs that are raised in intensive, indoor systems and have to be given routine antibiotics to keep them alive in the overcrowded, stressful conditions.

This has led to the emergence of the pig strain of MRSA, a disease which transmits from pigs to humans.

According to the report, the pig strain of MRSA is on the rise. In 2007 the pig strain of MRSA comprised only 2% of all notified MRSA cases in Denmark while this year the pig strain accounts for 36% of cases.

Although MRSA bacteria have been found on pork and bacon samples in the Netherlands, the USA and Canada, there has been no official testing in the UK in spite of requests by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and the Soil Association. The bacteria can live for weeks on infected surfaces like table tops and doorknobs, but the official advice is that there is low risk of catching the disease from infected meat if it is properly cooked.

On Free Range and Outdoor farms where the pigs are free to roam and express natural behaviour, the pigs are healthy and antibiotics are hardly ever used. As a result, on these farms the pig strain of MRSA is much less common. Researchers in the Netherlands found that while 38% of pigs in intensive, indoor system were carrying pig MRSA, on organic farms the figure was only 3%.

There is a growing movement among consumers towards outdoor pork that reflects their concerns about intensive indoor production and a wish to support high welfare farming. Almost all UK supermarkets, aware of the trend, are now labelling the production methods of pork and pork products more carefully, allowing  consumers to choose between the widely different  farming systems that produce their meat.

The Pig Pledge is a UK based, globally focused consumer led campaign aimed at shifting buying habits away from pork that is produced in animal factories to pork that is reared on healthy, humane farms proving that there is a better option out there, one that allows consumers to have their bacon and eat it. Our high welfare directory helps consumers source meat in their local area that has been reared to the highest standards, bringing together consumers and retailers in the fight against the corporate control of animal factories that are breeding superbugs like MRSA.

If animal factories make you squeal, then please take the Pig Pledge today to boycott factory farmed pork. As each of us eats roughly half a pig a year, for every two pledges taken, a pig is freed from a life in an animal factory. MRSA isn’t the only problem surrounding Animal Factories, go to: http://www.farmsnotfactories.org/ to find out how you can free a million pigs!