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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

Codex Task Force on AMR begins in Jeju

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) antimicrobial resistance is an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society. What is AMR? Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others. (WHO) Codex Task Force The Codex Alimentarius Commission agreed in July [...]
27 November 2017

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

Work on AMR a collaborative effort

In 2016 the Codex Alimentarius Commission established a Task Force on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which will hold its first meeting in Jeju, 27 November – 1 December 2017. Professor Yong Ho Park will chair the task force on behalf of the Republic of Korea. Professor Park holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine and a masters in science from Seoul National University, Korea and a PhD in veterinary microbiology from Washington State University. He has worked in the field of veterinary science [...]
16 November 2017
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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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