Hepatitis E, sausage epidemic from Germany and Holland in the UK
While in Italy newspapers closely monitor the Fipronil phenomenon – which, according to initial assessments (1), does not seem to represent an effective risk for consumers’ health – in England there is only one scientific publication revealing an epidemic caused by infected pork meat.
The Hepatitis E epidemic in England
The research published by Public Health England (PHE) examines the increasing diffusion of hepatitis E genotype 3 (G3 HEV), transmitted to hundreds of thousands of British citizens through the consumption of sausages, hams, salami and pork from Germany and Holland. (2) The consequences for the health are severe, to the point of leading the weaker subjects to liver cirrhosis and neurological damage.
‘G3 HEV is now the most common cause of acute viral hepatitis in the UK and cases continue to rise. The majority of these infections are acquired within the UK and thought to be from insufficiently cooked meat, predominantly processed pork meat.’
(Professor Richard Tedder, National Infection Service, Public Health England)
According to estimates, 150,000 to 200,000 people each year contract hepatitis E through the pork imported from Germany and Holland. A real pandemic, which led the NHS Blood and Transplant to screen all the blood donations. And they are about to do the same (better late than never!) also with donated organs and tissues.
The food safety crisis at the origin of the epidemic
PHE scientists, which by the way is a government agency, have mapped the buying habits of people who contracted the infection between 2014 and 2016. They noted a common feature, the consumption of sausages by the brand of “X Supermarket “.
Two previous studies by the same agency in 2011 had already identified X supermarket pork products as a key source of the virus transmission. But in the past six years, in the name of transparency (which is always lacking!), Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) made sure not to disclose the name of the X supermarket. Some confidential sources indicate Tesco, supreme retailer in the Kingdom of Albion. (3)
Tesco would not comment on the earlier published research, merely confirming that they had discussed with government agencies how to minimize the risk of hepatitis E. “We are working closely with FSA and PHE so that customers can have confidence in the safety of our food.” (?!)
Hepatitis E food carriers
The PHE study identifies among the products involved pork sausages “that should be cooked before consumption” and pre-packed sliced ham from central European countries. And after examining several sausage brands, they concluded that “only the X supermarket, in particular its brand, was significantly associated with the HEV G3-2′ virus”.
According to Professor Tedder “something seems to have changed in zootechnics”. In Germany and the Netherlands, it is worth pointing out. “Too many pigs are infected at slaughter. This is a problem for meat producers and for all retailers, not just for one”. The question is why has such a large-scale problem been revealed only now.
Dutch scientists (4) suggest that the spread of the virus derives from the practice of the Northern European meat industry to collect the blood of slaughtered pigs into tanks and then adding it to the meat without sterilizing it (?).
There is still a serious food safety crisis involving several member States. Germany and the Netherlands, not for the first time (5) at the origin of an international epidemic, with England facing its effects.
National authorities seem to have concealed the problem instead of spreading it in the most appropriate ways as they should have. And the lack of communication leads to the unforgivable lacking of crisis management. Indeed, as the aforementioned studies show, it has been going on for at least six years.
The European Commission, which has primary the responsibility of coordinating the management of transnational crises, has in turn failed to fulfill its responsibilities. Exposing citizens of other member countries, including Italy, where unfortunately there is as well news of the German sausage trade.
Our legislative priorities – introducing the production site address as mandatory on all food labels, as well as extending the traceability and the meat origin declaration to restaurants menus – prove to be indispensable and urgent to ensure first and foremost the safety of citizens. In addition to favoring conscious consumer choices.
Analysis, communication, and risk management of food safety cannot and must not be hindered by diplomacy or confidentiality. It is time to change gear, to intervene against national governments and the European bodies involved, to demand the removal of politicians and public executives who have betrayed their duties. And while waiting for guarantees to ensure the safety of the European supply chains at the source of the problem – whose names and brands must be made public – the introduction of safeguards measures to protect the health of citizens is indispensable.
(1) The first assessments of the German Risk Assessment Authority, BfR, are cited in
(2) Hepatitis E: the current state of play, Michael J. Ankcorn, R. S. Tedder, 2017, su Transfusion Medicine, doi: 10.1111/tme.12405, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tme.12405/full
(4) Professor Hans L. Zaaijer, Professor of Blood Infections at the University of Amsterdam, apparently reported this phenomenon already on July 16, 2015. There is, however, no news of the actual taking into account of the problem by the competent authorities
(5) From Germany it is enough to mention the colossal crisis of dioxin, in 2010-2011, which led to the closure of more than 4,700 pigs and poultry farms. After being spread, even then, in the Netherlands and England. See. http://www.ilfattoalimentare.it/germania-lo- scandalo-diossina- dilaga-a- macchia-dolio-lacune- e-ritardi- nei-controlli.html
Between 2011 and 2012, always from the German Federal Republic the so called blue mozzarella (bacillus cereus), the deadly sprouts (E. Coli), feeds and all the way to dioxins, spread all over Europe.
Holland, after various dioxin-related and PCB-related problems in feeds and animal products, is now at the heart of the Fipronil scandal