Lack of data in antimicrobial resistance sector

More data on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and its impact on the food chain is needed, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and published by the Royal Veterinary College and Safe Food Solutions, confirmed that there is a lack of AMR prevalence data for British-produced food and, to a lesser extent in countries that export food to the UK.

It suggested that efforts be made to develop surveillance programmes that will identify trends in the occurrence of AMR in foods and thereby provide a framework for assessing potential risks associated with exposure to such hazards among British consumers.

The report identified pork meat as an area where more data was sorely needed. Data on AMR bacteria from British and imported pork meat in the UK are limited and dated. Further research and surveillance efforts are needed to ascertain AMR levels in both foodborne and commensal bacteria in pork meat in the UK.

Although it said that there was more data available in the poultry sector, the report did warn that research and surveillance efforts should be continued to monitor AMR trends in both foodborne and commensal bacteria in British and imported chicken and poultry meats in the UK.

It also recommended that standardisation in the selection of antimicrobials for antimicrobial susceptibility testing panels should be followed, as well the use of harmonised criteria for assessment of resistance per bacteria/drug combination for surveillance purposes of AMR in the food chain; adoption of a standardised definition for multidrug resistance (MDR) and implementation of random sampling and adequate study design for epidemiological studies focused on AMR.

Further suggestions that surveillance priorities could be set using a risk-based approach were also made, taking into account the importance of antimicrobials used for treatment in both humans and animals, and continued surveillance of the incidence and emerging resistance in commensal bacteria should be encouraged.

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