The NFU has assured consumers that UK dairy products are “completely safe”, even though scientists have detected the MRSA bug in British raw milk for the first time.

The bug has been the focus of media attention because it can cause severe infections in humans and certain strains are resistant to antibiotics.

The scientific study carried out by the University of Cambridge’s department of veterinary medicine tested 1,500 samples of bulk milk and found seven cases of MRSA ST398 from five farms in England, Scotland and Wales.

Organic promotion body the Soil Association has called for a government investigation to establish the spread of MRSA and tighter rules on antibiotic use on UK farms.

In a statement the association said the high level of antibiotic resistance in the bug meant the findings were “of significance to both veterinary and human health”.

But NFU director of policy Martin Haworth insisted that heat-treated milk on shop shelves was safe. “Consumers should be aware that pasteurised milk is completely safe; a fact backed up by the author of the report,” said Mr Haworth.

“Shoppers should continue to buy British milk with complete confidence as it is produced by highly trained dairy farmers and stockmen who take their role as food producers very seriously.”

“Our farmers maintain excellent levels of hygiene through farm assurance standards which set rules for food production from farm through to pack,” he said.

“On top of food safety, the health and safety of workers and cattle are taken extremely seriously, through standards that demand suitable clean protective clothing and high levels of staff personal cleanliness before, during and after milking,” Mr Haworth added.

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