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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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CXC 61-2005Code of Practice to Minimize and Contain Antimicrobial ResistanceCCRVDF2005
CXG 77-2011Guidelines for Risk Analysis of Foodborne Antimicrobial ResistanceTFAMR2011

News

Antimicrobial resistance. Understanding where it is and how to target it key to reducing risks

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week runs from 18 to 22 November 2019, and is an annual, global event through which FAO, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and WHO raise awareness about antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a serious health and livelihoods issue. The three organizations encourage stakeholders to treat antibiotics and other antimicrobials as a precious resource to be used prudently and responsibly. Food plays an important role in the development and spread of AMR. The presence of AMR microorganisms in [...]
19 November 2019

Codex task force convenes to forge ahead on antimicrobial resistance

The Ad hoc Codex Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (TFAMR) started its sixth week-long meeting today in Busan, Republic of Korea. With more than 250 Codex Members and Observers in attendance, the meeting will make progress on revising the Codex Code of Practice to Minimize and Contain Foodborne Antimicrobial Resistance as well as developing the Guidelines on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance. "The problem seems simple”, said Dr Yong Ho Park, the TFAMR Chair, underscoring the rapid increase of microorganisms [...]
07 December 2018

Codex work presented at conference on antimicrobial resistance

Today the work of the Codex Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (TFAMR) was presented at the Second OIE Global Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance and Prudent Use of Antimicrobial Agents in Animals, which is taking place in Marrakesh, Morocco on 29-31 October 2018. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is focusing on ‘putting standards into practice’ at this year’s meeting. Speaking in the session on Surveillance and Monitoring towards Effective Management of Antimicrobial Resistance, Sarah Cahill, Senior Food Standards Officer with [...]
31 October 2018
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Key Facts

  • Around 500.000 human deaths each year are related to antimicrobial resistance 
  • 27 different antimicrobial classes are used in animals. 
  • Total global animal health market in 2011 was equivalent to USD 22 billion (OECD) 
  • Only 42 countries have a system to collect data on the use of antimicrobials in livestock (OIE)
  • No standardized data available on the global use of antimicrobials in livestock

Source FAO

AMR in food supply chain

Publications