FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Conference sets to improve food safety and reduce threat of antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobials play a critical role in the treatment of diseases of humans, animals (aquatic and terrestrial), and plants. Their use is essential to food security, our well-being, and animal welfare. However, the misuse of these drugs, associated with the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), places everyone at great risk. It endangers modern human and veterinary medicine and undermines the safety of our food and environment.

This crucial issue is the focus of an international FAO conference on food safety risk analysis and AMR in Moscow on 17–18 December 2019. In addition to the emergence of antibiotic resistant pathogens, other food safety risks require constant vigilance through robust governance mechanisms and appropriate preventive measures along the food chain.

The event gathered over 150 delegates representing animal and public health and food safety sectors, mostly from Europe and Central Asia, to exchange experiences and best practices on reducing antimicrobial resistance, assess multifaceted food safety risks, increase effective management, and enhance multilateral dialogue. The conference aims to expand international and interregional sectoral cooperation and partnerships between different actors. Participants also come from specialized international organizations, the private sector, consumers’ associations, and the scientific community.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a global health priority due to its high negative impacts on human and animal health, food safety, and sustainable development of the agriculture sector,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative, addressing the participants at the opening.

The conference, jointly organized by FAO and Rospotrebnadzor, is designed to contribute to enhancing multilateral international cooperation on food safety, improving nutrition, and realizing the provisions of the UN’s 2030 Agenda.

An additional objective of the conference is to showcase the progress made in reducing the threat of antimicrobial resistance in the beneficiary countries of a regional project funded by the Russian Federation, and review remaining challenges and ways to tackle them.

The risk of AMR appears particularly high in countries where legislation, regulatory surveillance and monitoring systems on the use of antimicrobials, and antimicrobial resistance prevention and control are weak or inadequate. This is where FAO plays a pivotal role in supporting governments, producers, traders, and other stakeholders to move towards the responsible use of antimicrobials in agriculture, thus helping reduce antimicrobial resistance in agricultural systems.

These issues are best addressed in a “One Health” multidisciplinary approach that involves a variety of partners, such as public health and veterinary authorities, the food and agriculture sectors, financial planners, environmental specialists, and consumers.

“It is critical that ongoing development within the food and agriculture sector is accompanied by a plan to address this and to ensure that antimicrobials are regulated and used in a responsible manner,” Rakhmanin emphasized. “In all targeted countries, the food, agriculture, and environmental sectors have to be actively engaged in the implementation of national action plans in line with their own priority areas.”

He also called on governments to invest in national food control systems to tackle the food safety challenges in the region and support safer food production, important for a range of socio-economic and health outcomes.

The conference is a follow-up to the International Conference on Food Safety and Risk Analysis that was held in Sochi, Russian Federation, on 18–19 May 2017. The event also builds on the First FAO/World Health Organization/African Union International Food Safety Conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 12–13 February 2019.

17 December 2019, Moscow, Russian Federation

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