Danish minister accused of misleading parliament on MRSA

Eva Kjer Hansen, the environment and food minister, said the Norwegian MRSA policy was not working

Eva Kjer Hansen, the environment and food minister, addressed a parliamentary group on January 14 and explained why Denmark was not following Norway’s example of exterminating infected herds. But she is now being accused of misrepresenting the success of Norway’s policies, DR reports.

“In Norway they have put down herds in large numbers. This has actually not helped them. The MRSA has come back. So I do not think that this is a viable option,” she told the parliamentary group.

Norwegian research
But according to figures from the Norwegian veterinary institute Veterinærinstituttet, in 24 out of 26 cases of herds being exterminated, the bacteria has been eliminated and has not returned in subsequent test results.

Carl Andreas Grøntvedt, a researcher at Veterinærinstituttet, characterises his country’s efforts as a success.

“In more than 90 percent of cases, extermination has been successful first time, and the herds have been free of MRSA ever since,” he said.

“I am proud of the action being taken in Norway.”

Misleading parliament?
It was Maria Reumert Gjerding, Enhedslisten’s agricultural spokesperson, who initially called for Hansen to speak before the parliamentary group, and in light of the Norwegian research, she believes that the minister made misleading statements.

“I find Eva Kjer Hansen’s statements reprehensible. She argues to parliament that the Norwegian policy isn’t working, but the opposite is true. This shows that Denmark should do exactly the same and exterminate infected herds,” she said.

Hansen herself declined to comment, but Per Henriksen, the veterinary director at the food agency Fødevarestyrelsen, argued that the figures do not justify a change to Denmark’s approach.

“A relapse rate of nearly ten percent is too high. Norway has completely different pork production from Denmark, which has many and large herds, so we should expect a greater relapse rate in intensive Danish pork production,” he said.