• Antimicrobial use in food-producing animals remains a hot button issue. In the United States, FDA, USDA, and various industry stakeholders have sought to tackle public health concerns associated with the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth or feed efficiency in food-producing animals. In the European Union (EU), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has spearheaded similar efforts to reduce antimicrobial resistance. EFSA monitors and analyses the situation on antimicrobial resistance in food and animals across Europe, and is assisted by EFSA’s network on zoonoses data collection: a pan-European network of national representatives of EU Member States, other reporting countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
  • A new report by EFSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), published on February 27, 2018 and based on data from 2016, has found that bacteria from humans and animals continue to show resistance to antimicrobials. Key findings include (but are not limited to):
    • Resistance to carbapenem antibiotics was detected at very low level in poultry and in chicken meat in two Member States (fifteen E. coli bacteria). Carbapenems are used to treat serious infections in humans and are not authorized for use in animals.
    • Combined clinical resistance to critically important antimicrobials was observed at low to very low levels in Salmonella (0.2%), Campylobacter (1%) and E. coli (1%) in poultry.
    • Resistance to colistin was observed at low levels (2%) in Salmonella and E. Coli in poultry.
    • Prevalence of ESBL-producing E. coli in poultry varies markedly between the EU Member States, from low (less than 10%) to extremely high levels (more than 70%). Bacteria that produce ESBL enzymes show multi-drug resistance to β-lactam antibiotics – a class of broad spectrum antibiotics which include penicillin derivatives, cephalosporins and carbapenems. This is the first time that the presence of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli was monitored in poultry and poultry meat
    • One out of four infections in humans are caused by Salmonella bacteria that show resistance to three or more antimicrobials commonly used in human and animal medicine. The proportion is significantly higher in S. Kentucky and S. Infantis (76.3 and 39.4% respectively).
    • For the first time, ESBL-producing S. Kentucky with high resistance to ciprofloxacin was detected in four countries. These bacteria are not possible to treat with critically important antibiotics.
  • In announcing these findings, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety reaffirmed his commitment to tackle antimicrobial resistance stating: “Levels of antimicrobial resistance still differ significantly from one EU country to another. To win the fight, we need to join our efforts and implement stringent policies on the use of antibiotics across sectors. It is vital that we all renew our commitment to fight antimicrobial resistance by focusing on the key areas set out in the EU One Health Action Plan against antimicrobial resistance.”