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Vietnamese pork regularly contaminated with bacteria, finds study

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Oscar Rousseau

By Oscar Rousseau+


Four in 10 Vietnamese households choose pork as their preferred meat
Four in 10 Vietnamese households choose pork as their preferred meat

Pork sold across Vietnam’s wet markets regularly carries food poisoning bacteria, such as Salmonella, according to researchers.

A study found 48 out of 108 (48%) pork cuts collected from a wet market in Vietnam’s Hung Yen Province were contaminated with Salmonella.

The study from 2014 – 2015 was carried out by researchers at the Centre for Public Health and Ecosystem Research at the Hanoi School of Public Health, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The study suggested 18% of consumers who ate pork from a wet market in Vietnam would probably suffer from salmonellosis, an infection caused by Salmonella, that year.

Salmonella is a pathogen that can cause food poisoning. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is one of four key global causes of diarrhoeal disease, affecting one in 10 people.

Pork is the most popular meat in Vietnam, and the ILRI estimates that, when it comes to animal protein, four in 10 households pick pork.

Another research paper published by the same Vietnamese team found that a human antibiotic banned for farm use appeared in 4% of pork samples.

The study, from April 2015 to January 2015, analysed 514 samples of pig feed, meat, liver and kidneys for traces of antibiotics and metal.

Chloramphenicol, an antibiotic used to treat human infections but banned for animal use, was found in 11% of pig feed samples and 4% of pork cuts.

The concern is that some pigs may have been treated with the antibiotic chloramphenicol, which in turn may have accelerated the development antimicrobial resistance – something experts claim could lead to a global health crisis.

Use of banned substances in feed and food has been made a criminal act in Vietnam since 2016, but the ILRI said in a blog post this week that the “draconian” regulation is “unlikely to succeed” in addressing on-farm antibiotic use.

The Vietnamese researchers have suggested in their paper that effective risk communication strategy would be beneficial to address antibiotic use. They claim effective messaging is also needed to educate consumers about the risk of consuming pork contaminated with salmonella and other bacteria.

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