SCOTLAND’S public sector food body has emphasised the need for good hygiene and cooking practices, following concerns over a potentially fatal “superbug” found in some British supermarket pork.

New tests shared with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and published in the Guardian suggest that the enterococci superbug, which shows resistance to a “last resort” antibiotic used to treat serious illness in humans, in more widespread in UK meat that previously suspected, with the tests finding it in 13 out of 103 samples.

A UK Government review of antimicrobial resistance in 2016 estimated that superbugs kill at least 700,000 people worldwide every year, and warned that this figure could rise to 10 million extra deaths by 2050 without action.

Speaking to the National, a spokesperson for Food Standards Scotland (FSS) commented “FSS works across government to support the strategy for reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria in the environment and carries out its own monitoring to assess the potential for AMR bacteria to enter the meat production chain. Strict controls are in place to ensure that any hazards associated with the animal slaughtering process are prevented or reduced to an acceptable level, which will in turn help to reduce the risk of AMR bacteria entering the food chain.”

The spokesperson added that whilst raw meat is not a sterile product, the risk to consumers from acquiring AMR-related infections through the handling and consumption of contaminated raw meat is “very low, provided that good hygiene and cooking practices are followed.

“This includes keeping raw meat separate from other foods, and ensuring hands, surfaces and utensils are cleaned thoroughly to prevent cross contamination. Thorough cooking will also destroy any bacteria present on food, including those that are resistant to antimicrobials.”