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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 ResistanceCCRVDF2021
CXG 77-2011Guidelines for Risk Analysis of Foodborne Antimicrobial ResistanceTFAMR2011
CXG 94-2021Guidelines on integrated monitoring and surveillance of foodborne antimicrobial resistance TFAMR2021

News

Lancet study emphasizes the need to address AMR data gaps

The publication of two Codex standards on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) coincides with a study in the Lancet released on 19 January 2022 that describes AMR as “one of the leading public health threats of the 21st century”. The Lancet study emphasizes the need to address data gaps by expanding data collection which Codex is addressing through its new guidelines on integrated monitoring and surveillance of foodborne antimicrobial surveillance, adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in December 2021. An incredible achievement to [...]
20 January 2022

TFAMR / an incredible achievement to complete work on new guidance on AMR surveillance

The Codex task force on antimicrobial resistance had to go into extra time on Wednesday 13 October 2021 but has succeeded in recommending that new Guidelines on Integrated Monitoring and Surveillance of Foodborne Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) will be sent for final adoption at the Codex Alimentarius Commission in November 2021. Chairperson Yong Ho Park, Republic of Korea, said: “We knew the task would not be easy. I applaud with pride the compromises made by so many wonderful people to achieve our [...]
14 October 2021

TFAMR08 / Committee approves code of practice but time running out on new surveillance text

In an extended session on Saturday 9 October 2021, the Codex task force on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) reached agreement on sending the revision of the Code of practice to minimize and contain foodborne AMR to the Codex Alimentarius Commission for final adoption in November, but will go into extra time on Wednesday 13 October in an attempt to complete discussions on a new guideline on integrated monitoring and surveillance for foodborne AMR. Urged on by host, the Republic of Korea’s slogan [...]
10 October 2021

TFAMR08 / Steady progress on new monitoring and surveillance guidance

The atmosphere in the Codex Secretariat, if it is possible to describe a virtual atmosphere, was one of cautious optimism as work on the Guidelines for the Monitoring and Surveillance of Foodborne AMR paused on Wednesday 6 October 2021 and fresh discussions on the Code of Practice to Minimize and Contain Antimicrobial Resistance took centre stage. Chairperson Professor Yong Ho Park has led the task force through much of the draft text and has been working in tandem with Rosa Perán, [...]
06 October 2021

Task force AMR underway / “There is no time to wait”.

The number of people who will die every year due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is expected to rise to 10 million by 2050. Under the slogan, “There is no time to wait”, from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of the Republic of Korea, the eighth and final session of the Codex AMR task force opened virtually from Buyeo on 4 October 2021. In welcoming over 300 online delegates, Mr Kim Ganglip, Minister of Food and Drug Safety of the [...]
04 October 2021

A decisive moment for Codex and AMR

Speaking on 29 September 2021 at the opening of an FAO/OIE/WHO webinar entitled “One Health Approach to AMR Mitigation and Safer Food in the Asia-Pacific Region”, Codex Secretary Tom Heilandt said the tripartite One Health approach to mitigation of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and safer food was “the only approach that promises success”. In highlighting the decisive moment for Codex and AMR he encouraged Codex Members to ramp up their efforts to complete the work of the AMR taskforce – due to begin [...]
29 September 2021
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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

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