Researchers from London, England, investigated outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease linked with red meat in England and Wales, between 1992 and 1999.
During this time, 1426 food-borne general outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease were reported to the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre.
It was found that 16% were linked with the consumption of red meat.
Over 5000 people were affected, with 186 hospital admissions and 9 deaths.
Beef (34%) and pig meat (32%) were the most frequently implicated meat types, with lamb implicated in 11% of outbreaks.
The organisms most frequently reported were Clostridium perfringens (43%) and salmonellas (34%).
During the summer, outbreaks were mainly of Salmonella species and attributed to the consumption of pig meat.
In December, outbreaks of C. perfringens linked with beef predominated.
|Meats implicated in disease outbreaks:|
| Communicable Disease and Public Health |
Most outbreaks occurred as a result of food cooked on commercial catering premises (46%).
The team discovered that, during this surveillance period, there was a fall in the number of outbreaks linked with foods containing red meat.
This corresponds with a steady decline in red meat consumption over the last two decades. In addition, this is associated with a transient, though marked, decline in the purchase and consumption of red meat during the BSE crisis, in the early to mid 1990s in the UK.
W. J. Smerdon, of the PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, concluded on behalf of fellow authors, "As cited in the Pennington Report, further reducing the morbidity and mortality from red meat outbreaks means targeting meat production at various points along the food chain. This means from abattoir and butchering, to cooking and holding of cooked food, especially on commercial catering premises."