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codexalimentarius > Themes > Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global threat of increasing concern to human and animal health. It also has implications for both food safety and food security and the economic well being of millions of farming households.

Food plays an important role in the development and spread of AMR. The presence of AMR microorganisms in agricultural production systems and food chains is a potential route of exposure for everyone. Good hygiene practices in agriculture, fundamental in achieving food safety, are also key to addressing antimicrobial resistance.

The role of Codex in AMR

Microorganisms (bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi) in food are potential food safety hazards. The relationship of the use of antimicrobials (agents that can kill microorganisms or stop them from growing) in food-producing animals and the emergence of resistant microorganisms in the food chain is a concern and has been the subject of numerous national and international consultations.

The extent to which the use of antimicrobial agents in food animals (including aquaculture), horticulture or humans contributes to antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms in humans varies between the different microorganisms and different regions.

When humans ingest antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms in food, some species of microorganisms may cause illness. These and other species may also serve as a source of transferable resistance determinants for other microorganisms, including human pathogens.

In recognising the need for a more general and multidisciplinary response to deal with AMR, in 2006 Codex established a first Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance to develop science-based guidance on how to assess and manage the risks to human health associated with the presence in food and feed (including aquaculture) and the transmission through food and feed of antimicrobial resistant microorganisms. A second Task Force, recently established in response to the increased global attention to the serious threat of AMR to public health, will develop science-based guidance to enable coherent management of antimicrobial resistance along the food chain.

Other Codex texts on veterinary drugs and their residues, food hygiene, animal feed, also contribute to tackle AMR by preventing the development and minimizing the transmission of AMR through the food chain.

Related Codex Texts

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CAC/RCP 61-2005Code of Practice to Minimize and Contain Antimicrobial ResistanceCCRVDF2005
CAC/GL 77-2011Guidelines for Risk Analysis of Foodborne Antimicrobial ResistanceTFAMR2011

News

Addressing AMR on a worldwide basis

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a global forum working to “transform scientific knowledge into innovative solutions for the benefit of people around the world.” They were established in 1939 and are an NGO observer to Codex. We spoke to Rosie Newsome who is Director of Science and Policy Initiatives. Question: Antibiotics have been used in food animals for more than 50 years to treat, prevent, or control infectious disease. What is the relation to antimicrobial resistance? IFT Response: The antibiotic [...]
17 November 2017

Science-based expertise for the global dairy sector

The International Dairy Federation (IDF) is the global voice of dairy towards stakeholders and intergovernmental organizations and an NGO observer in Codex. Nico van Belzen is Director General and spoke to Codex about AMR. Codex: Antimicrobial Resistance is not constrained by geographic borders therefore limiting the development of AMR requires the implementation of global strategies. Why is it important today to raise the awareness of all stakeholders involved?  van Belzen: The spread of AMR threatens our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in [...]
15 November 2017

Steve Wearne talks AMR for Codex

Steve Wearne is Director of Policy and Science Group at the UK Food Standards Agency and In July 2017 he was elected as Vice Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. He also chaired the 2016 Codex physical Working Group on antimicrobial resistance in London.   For Antimicrobial Awareness Week we spoke to Steve about the importance of antimicrobial resistance as an issue, about the agricultural use of antimicrobials, and about national and international action on the issue, of which the work of [...]
13 November 2017
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