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Online webinar seeks to build consensus around antimicrobial text under development


Close to 200 participants gathered online on 19 January 2021 for the first of two webinars aimed at building understanding on a Codex text currently being drafted in the Codex antimicrobial resistance task force (TFAMR). The text in question is the Guidelines on Integrated Monitoring and Surveillance of Foodborne Antimicrobial Resistance which is being developed to assist governments when they design and implement their own AMR surveillance programmes. Typically, this type of programme will involve collecting and analyzing data from points along the food chain to build up a national picture on the prevalence of AMR. Samples can be collected from food producing animals, plants, and food in processing facilities or at points of purchase. This data provides valuable information on the prevalence of foodborne AMR which can then be used to minimize the risk to public health from resistant microorganisms.

The Guidelines also note the role that data collection on antimicrobial use has as part of integrated surveillance and its use in management of the risk posed by AMR.  Data and information are key for a country to understand the extent and nature of its AMR problem and to monitor the impact of risk management measures. Sarah Cahill, Codex Secretariat, said: “These guidelines will help governments understand the importance of surveillance and drive actions to initiate development of national systems that will provide a national perspective of the AMR problem and thereby guide appropriate mitigation actions”.

The Guidelines also complement the Code of practice to contain and minimize foodborne microbial resistance (currently under revision in TFAMR) on the risk management of foodborne AMR and constitute one of the three core Codex texts on AMR, together with the Guidelines for Risk Analysis of Foodborne AMR "that together represent the Codex contribution to worldwide efforts to combat AMR within the One Health Approach", said Gracia Brisco, Codex Secretariat.

The Codex standard setting work on AMR contributes to the global efforts to address AMR as reflected in the framework for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. Together with other standards setting organizations such as OIE - World Organisation for Animal Health.

The webinar was led by experts from Canada, China, Costa Rica and New Zealand. The chairperson of the group drafting the text, Rosa Perán from The Netherlands said: “Despite the uncertainties surrounding physical meetings we know that we have a deadline and that we have to finish this work”.

Those who joined on line were updated on progress made by the drafting team and given an opportunity to share their views on the key outstanding elements that will need to be agreed on if the guidelines are to be completed at the final session of this specially convened Codex task force, currently scheduled to take place in October 2021.

Participants polled online during the meeting indicated collaboration, consensus and compromise as some of the key elements that will dictate the success or otherwise of the goal to complete the text in 2021 so that it can be submitted for adoption by the Codex Alimentarius Commission at its next session.

Professor Yong Ho Park, Republic of Korea and Chairperson of the task force, speaking via video message, urged countries to work together and “join the effort to stop bacteria winning the battle against antibiotics along the entire food chain”.

Main photo (clockwise top left): Carolee Carson (Canada); Constanza Vergara (Chile); Mark Reist (Canada); Jenni Doyle (New Zealand); Rosa Perán (The Netherlands); Haihong Hao (China).

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Recordings of the webinar will be made available via the TFAMR meeting pages

Learn about Codex and AMR