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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

Reference Title Committee Last modified
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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

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

Report of Codex AMR meeting published

The Codex Secretariat has published the report of the working group on AMR hosted by the UK and co-chaired by the USA and Australia that met in London from 29 November to 2 December 2016. The report is available online as a working document of the 40th Codex Alimentarius Commission which will take place in Geneva in July. Broad consensus The London meeting completed the tasks set by the 2016 Commission and carried out the initial ground work for the Codex Task Force [...]
17 February 2017

London AMR meeting sets direction for Codex taskforce

The working group hosted by UK and co-chaired by the USA and Australia met in London from 29 November to 2 December 2016 to complete the tasks set by the 39th Codex Alimentarius Commission. Taskforce to tackle emerging global threat This work involved preparing the work for the Codex Task Force on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which will begin its discussions in 2017. Hosted by the Republic of Korea, this body will review and revise Codex texts to address uses of antimicrobials in agriculture [...]
03 December 2016
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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

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