MAP disputes reports on hepatitis E in sausages

The Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) has said recent reports that one in 10 sausages could contain a strain of the deadly hepatitis virus are not strictly true.

After looking closer at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) study, which  suggested some sausages could contain the hepatitis E virus following tests, MAP pointed out several flaws.

It said of the 63 sausages tested in the recent Defra study, five of the six sausages containing hepatitis E came from the same cohort of pigs.

MAP added: “There is currently no clear evidence to suggest that the rise in cases of hepatitis E is linked to pork consumption and, in fact, the source of the rise in cases is not known. More research needs to be undertaken.”

It said the study did not provide conclusive evidence that hepatitis E was present in 10% of all sausages, which showed no statistical significance. “For example, a different sample from the same study failed to find the virus in 40 samples of pig muscle collected,” it said.

A spokesperson from Defra told MeatInfo.co.uk the study was simply a “snapshot” and was not claiming to be a full overview of sausages in the UK.

Meanwhile, MAP has stressed the importance of cooking all pork and pork products until steaming hot all the way through, with no pink or red in the middle, to reduce risk. “Using a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature reaches 72°C before serving or eating can be a very useful check,” it added.