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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 Foodborne Antimicrobial ResistanceTFAMR2021
CXG 77-2011Guidelines for Risk Analysis of Foodborne Antimicrobial ResistanceTFAMR2021
CXG 94-2021Guidelines on integrated monitoring and surveillance of foodborne antimicrobial resistance TFAMR2021

News

In ACTion during WAAW 2023/ Highlights from six countries

The "Action to support implementation of Codex AMR texts (ACT)" project leveraged World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) 2023 as an opportunity to highlight the key role of prevention in tackling the issue of drug-resistant infections transmitted through food. During WAAW 2023 the ACT project supported the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Cambodia, Colombia, Mongolia, Nepal, and Pakistan to raise awareness about antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and foster collaboration with stakeholders. Bolivia and Colombia prioritized strengthening inter-institutional work In coordination with the government agencies, FAO [...]
09 January 2024

CAC46 / A side session on reducing foodborne antimicrobial resistance

Global experts convened to address the critical issue of reducing foodborne antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at the side event on 1 December 2023, as part of the 46th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC46) at FAO headquarters, Rome.   The panelists discussed how Codex standards help to tackle foodborne AMR, the medically important antimicrobial list by the World Health Organization (WHO), and tools for risk communication about antimicrobial use in plants/crops. Furthermore, participants gained insights into the International FAO Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring [...]
05 December 2023

How can Codex standards help to tackle foodborne antimicrobial resistance?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched a new brochure "How can Codex standards help tackle foodborne antimicrobial resistance (AMR)?" which explains how Codex standards help tackle foodborne antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This new reference document describes the three core texts Codex has developed specifically on foodborne AMR: The Guidelines for Risk Analysis of Foodborne Antimicrobial Resistance (CXG 77-2011) enable countries to identify issues specific to their own contexts, establish priorities and implement targeted interventions. The Guidelines on the [...]
01 December 2023

New ACT factsheets / Countries address antimicrobial resistance through the implementation of Codex texts

Six new factsheets were recently published to promote how the “Action to support implementation of Codex AMR (ACT)” project countries work to address foodborne antimicrobial resistance (AMR). “Managing AMR poses a significant challenge for the world. One way AMR can spread to humans is through food, known as foodborne AMR. Unfortunately, every day, unsafe food causes illnesses and deaths. We work globally and locally to address foodborne AMR through the implementation of Codex AMR texts, and these factsheets provide a snapshot [...]
22 November 2023

WAAW 2023 / Global action to tackle the problem of AMR

World AMR Awareness Week (WAAW) 2023, 18 - 24 November, a global initiative to raise awareness and encourage action to tackle the emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens, is starting today.  Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a threat to humans, animals, plants, and the environment, and it affects everyone. The theme for WAAW 2023, maintained from 2022 is: "Preventing antimicrobial resistance together". The theme emphasizes the need for a One Health approach involving multiple sectors to preserve the efficacy of antimicrobials. Addressing AMR requires collective efforts [...]
18 November 2023

ACT in the Plurinational State of Bolivia / Agreement to establish a sectoral AMR committee

The representatives from the Plurinational State of Bolivia discussed the next steps in addressing foodborne antimicrobial resistance (AMR), as part of the “Action to support implementation of Codex AMR texts (ACT)” project. Thirty-five people from different government departments, associations, the private sector and academia met on 23-25 October 2023 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. “This workshop allowed us to reach commitments among different stakeholders. The participants agreed to establish a sectoral committee for AMR, a laboratory network for AMR in animal health, [...]
14 November 2023
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ACT Project

ACT Video 2023

Available also in French, Spanish and Korean.

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

Video

Publications