Food safety and quality

New Codex standards to help contain foodborne antimicrobial resistance (AMR)


Just as World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-24 November) opens, the 44th session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) closes with two momentous international decisions on reducing antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Over the course of four years, the Ad hoc Codex Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (TFAMR) developed science-based guidance on the management of foodborne antimicrobial resistance, reviewing and revising the Code of Practice to Minimize and Contain Antimicrobial Resistance (originally adopted in 2005) and developing Guidance on Integrated Monitoring and Surveillance of Foodborne Antimicrobial Resistance. The Codex Alimentarius Commission has now adopted the Code of Practice and Guidance, incorporating them into the ‘food code’ to help protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade.

Markus Lipp, FAO Senior Food Safety Officer, explains here what the new standards mean.

  • How will the two new standards improve food safety?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the most critical public health issues that needs the world’s attention. Measures to combat the increase in AMR are essential for human health, animal health, plant health, and the health of the environment alike. These newly updated/developed guidance documents will help all stakeholders in the fight against AMR, specifically in ensuring that all food safety policies will encompass suitable measures to combat foodborne AMR, making food and food production safer for all consumers and the environment.

  • Why did the Code of Practice to Minimize and Contain Antimicrobial Resistance need to be updated? What is new?

The field of antimicrobial resistance is one of the areas where new knowledge is emerging at a very fast pace. The updated document was modified in many places to become more inclusive with regard to all food production processes, the improved knowledge about mitigation and prevention measures throughout the whole food system, in a One Health approach, and provides new insights about the most effective policy measures. 

  • Why was the new guidance on AMR surveillance considered an ‘incredible achievement’, what will it do?

The adoption of this guidance document by the Codex Alimentarius Commission is a truly amazing achievement, demonstrating the willingness of Codex Members and Observer organizations to find common ground, to develop the consensus necessary to address jointly one of the most urgent public health crises that is currently threatening human, animal and plant health. Adoption of this standard highlights a recognition of the importance of collecting data on foodborne antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use in food systems so that we are able to implement measures to address AMR where they can be most effective and contribute data from the food safety side to facilitate a truly One Health approach to AMR.  

  • What will these standards mean for consumers?

This new guidance document will mean that consumers can trust that their national governments have the internationally, science-based tools available to develop national policies and action plans with regard to combatting AMR that will allow a suitable protection of human health, access to international trade and respecting the needs and rights of farmers and consumers alike.


See the draft standards in the TFAMR report from its 8th session

Watch a related video: No time to wait - the work of the ad hoc Task Force for Antimicrobial Resistance

See highlights of standards adopted at CAC44

Read more about Codex Alimentarius

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