Bacteria threatens more hog farmers

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State food safety authorities have been swooping down on hog farmers in Norway after discovering several cases of MRSA bacterial infection. Another farm was feared to be infected in Nordland County this week.

PHOTO: Landbruks- og mat departementet/Torbjørn Tandberg

Norwegian farmers enjoy a high degree of subsidy and protection from foreign competition, and in return are expected to maintain high quality of locally produced food. Inspection results have been disturbing of late, after the state boosted their frequency. PHOTO: Landbruks- og mat departementet/Torbjørn Tandberg

Preliminary results of tests conducted by the state authorities from Mattilsynet gave rise to concerns. News bureau NTB reported that the farm in question has been cordoned off along with its livestock, as part of efforts to hinder any spread of infection.

It remained unclear whether the case of possible MRSA infection was related to those found recently on farms in other parts of central and northern Norway. The MRSA bacteria to date has been detected among 15 separate groups of swine, leading to forced slaughters to contain the infection.

“If the new tests are returned as positive, the affected farm will be cleared,” Karen Johanne Baalsrud, a section chief for animal health at Mattilsynet, told NTB. “By that we mean total disinfection of the farm and forced slaughter of all the animals.”

The MRSA bacteria is linked to those that have developed resistance to several types of antibiotics. Mattilsynet officials stressed that it is not dangerous to eat the meat after it’s been “handled in the ordinary manner.”

Norway’s government ministry in charge of agriculture and food reported earlier this week that Mattilsynet increased the number of its inspections by 22 percent last year from the year before. Animal health and welfare have been given more attention, not least after the discovery of tragedies in which farmers have neglected their livestock. In one case this winter, a Norwegian farmer allowed his herd of cattle to starve to death after suffering depression.

Agriculture Minister Sylvi Listhaug from the Progress Party has urged more inspections, which she claimed also allow the inspectors to inform and advise farmers about current regulations.

newsinenglish.no staff