Supermarkets are calling for government guidance after a Soil Association report claimed a new strain of the MRSA superbug identified in European countries could be present in meat exported to the UK.

In the Netherlands, farm-animal MRSA has been found in 20% of pork, 21% of chicken and 3% of beef, according to the Soil Association. It has not yet been found in UK livestock or meat products but the

Soil Association says no one is looking in the right place.

"Neither the government nor the FSA are carrying out any surveys of the most likely carriers - live pigs, chickens and imported meat," said policy adviser Richard Young.

Asda stressed the need for an industry-wide response to the problem.

"If we were to test for farm-animal MRSA in meat, what would we do with the results?" asked a spokesman. "Industry is looking to the FSA for guidance."

Danish authorities have already stepped up surveillance for the disease but are not planning on taking any special action to counter it. The Danish Bacon and Meat Council said only two herds had yet tested positive for the disease.

"The presence of the disease in Denmark is limited and we know this strain is only responsible for about 1% of the total number of MRSA cases in Denmark," said marketing director John Howard.

However, some 50% of Dutch pig farmers are known to carry the new strain of MRSA.

Mark Enright, a microbiologist from London's Imperial College, said it posed a serious risk for those in close contact with livestock.

"That risk is hard to quantify because we don't know the prevalence of MRSA in British pig herds," he told The Grocer. "We used testing to establish how widespread it is."

The FSA said it was aware of the issue and was examining the SA's report. In a statement, it said: "Our advice on avoiding food poisoning bacteria applies equally to MRSA. Proper cooking will destroy it."