A British supermarket may be putting thousands of people at risk each year by selling sausages contaminated with the hepatitis E virus, according to Public Health England.
Scientists at the government agency, found that some people infected by the virus – symptoms of which vary from tiredness to liver and brain damage – have been eating own-brand sausages from ‘Supermarket X’.
PHE are refusing to name the retailer despite admitting the number of cases of HEV has been on the rise since 2010.
Scientists at Public Health England found some Brits infected by the virus – symptoms of which vary from tiredness to liver failure – have been eating sausages from ‘Supermarket X’
The shopping habits of sixty infected people and no history of travel outside the UK were traced, and it was found that study participants who purchased ham and/or sausages from ‘Supermarket X’ were more likely to have the infection.
Imported pork infects 150,000 to 200,000 people a year with HEV in the UK, the study estimated.
Authors of the report, who include Bengu Said and Professor Richard Tedder, said the nature of the infection is ‘dynamic’ and have called for complex animal husbandry practices involved in meat production to be explored further.
Professor Tedder told the Sunday Times: ‘Something appears to have changed in animal husbandry so too many pigs are infected at slaughter. This is a problem for meat producers and all retailers, not just one.’
The shopping habits of sixty infected people and no history of travel outside the UK were traced, and it was found that study participants who purchased ham and/or sausages (file pic) from ‘Supermarket X’ were more likely to have the infection.
HEV usually produces mild symptoms but in rare cases it can prove fatal, particularly in pregnant women or those with suppressed immune systems.
WHAT IS HEPATITIS E?
Hepatitis E is generally a mild and short-term infection that doesn’t require any treatment, but it can be serious.
Symptoms range from tiredness to liver failure. In rare cases, it can prove fatal, particularly in pregnant women or those with a weakened immune system.
Normally the infection will clear by itself. But the virus can result in a persistent infection which in turn can cause chronic inflammation of the liver.
The number of cases in Europe has increased in recent years and it’s now the most common cause of short-term hepatitis in the UK.
There is no vaccine for hepatitis E.
Source: NHS.uk and gov.uk
Some 85 per cent of British pigs are known to be anti-HEV antibody positive, so infected products from places such as Holland and Germany are thought to be the cause.
A spokesman for PHE told MailOnline they would not publicly disclose the identity of Supermarket X.
When asked why, they said: ‘The association with the supermarket does not infer any blame.’
A spokesman from the Food Standards Agency told MailOnline: ‘We aware of findings of this report and are reviewing all aspects of hepatitis E infection with other government departments and industry.
‘The risk from acquiring hepatitis E virus (HEV) from eating thoroughly cooked pork or pork products is low.
‘As a precaution, the FSA advises consumers that all whole cuts of pork, pork products and offal should be thoroughly cooked until steaming hot throughout, the meat is no longer pink and juices run clear.’