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Public Health England Says No TB Infection Risk from Meat

July 2, 2013

Following a story in the Sunday Times that alleged meat from TB infected cattle is being sold to caterers and food processors, the Food Standards Agency have been quick to reassure consumers that there is no risk to Public Health. While raw meat from around 28,000 diseased animals a year is rejected by most supermarkets and fast food companies it can still find its way into the food chain. Schools, hospitals and the military as well as certain pies and pasties have been implicated by the report. Dr John Watson, Head of Respiratory Diseases at Public Health England is also convinced there is not a problem saying; “On the basis of the recent epidemiology of M. bovis infections in the human population in the UK, there is no evidence of a significant public health problem associated with the consumption of meat. The risk to humans remains very low.”

PHE statistics show that in the past 10 years there have been less than 40 cases of human M. bovis disease notified in the UK each year. The majority of these cases have been in UK-born people aged 65 years and over, who it is thought acquired the infection before official controls on products such as pasteurised milk. The European Food Safety Authority has advised that the risk of anyone catching bovine TB through eating meat is ‘negligible’ a view backed up by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) who conducted an independent risk assessment in 2010  M.bovis can affect most mammals but cattle are particularly susceptible to developing active tuberculosis. 

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