Support for research on meat virus

April 11, 1997

THE Pennington inquiry, set up after 18 people died in central Scotland in one of the world's worst outbreaks of E.coli poisoning, has given its support for more research into the virulent organism.

Led by Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology at Aber-deen University, the inquiry makes 32 recommendations, including the requirement for a stricter licensing regime for butchers, and, as part of the curriculum, lessons in food hygiene for primary and secon-dary school children. It does not call for the establishment of an independent food agency, which has been demanded by Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The inquiry, set up last November and costing Pounds 45,000, says it will encourage further research into E.coli 0157, but that all research should be subject to normal funding consideration and peer review, "with appropriate weight given to the threat the organism represents to the public health". The report notes that rates of human E.coli infection in the UK appear to have increased in recent years, adding that more research may be appropriate on the transmission of the organism to, and between, people.

The Meat Hygiene Service may be required to target potentially unhealthy slaughterhouses.

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