The Food Standards Agency has today released a surveillance study of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria isolated from chicken and pork on sale in the UK. Its aim is to address current gaps in evidence about the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in meat, and throw light on any links with antibiotics used to treat disease in farm animals.
Gwyn Jones, the Chair of the RUMA Alliance, has welcomed the report, saying: “Our focus is on reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use; while some livestock sectors have already achieved extraordinary results, there is definitely more to do in others. We believe the FSA’s new research will add to the bank of knowledge and help identify additional interventions that have the potential to reduce antimicrobial resistant bacteria in food, while safeguarding our continued access to antibiotics which treat disease and prevent pain or suffering in animals.”
He added: “It’s important to recognise that antibiotic resistance is a naturally-occurring phenomenon which happens as bacteria defend themselves against attack. Resistant bacteria can be found anywhere and everywhere, and any use of antibiotics in human or animal medicine can lead to the development of resistance. However, cutting antibiotic use doesn’t necessarily cut the levels of resistant bacteria found, and that is why this study will prove valuable over time as more datasets are added.
“In the meantime, we are pleased that the FSA’s advice is the risk presented by any antibiotic resistant bacteria in food remains very low, and that raw food should – as ever – be stored appropriately, handled hygienically and cooked thoroughly to ensure any bacteria present, resistant or not, are destroyed.”