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Antimicrobial resistance in food


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the capacity of microorganisms to resist medicines used to treat infections. It is a major global threat of increasing concern to human and animal health. It also has implications for the food safety, food security and economic well-being of millions of households.

There is clear scientific evidence that food can serve as a vehicle of food-borne exposure to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. This includes, but is not limited to, foods from livestock and poultry, fish, and fruits and vegetables. Antimicrobials are important means to keep animals and plants healthy and to maintain animal welfare and food security. At the same time, it is recognized that antimicrobial use (AMU) in agriculture contributes to the emergence of antimicrobial-resistance.

Because food can become contaminated with antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and antimicrobial resistance genes anywhere along the food chain from primary production to consumption, both conventionally and organically produced products are potentially vulnerable to contamination with antimicrobial-resistant organisms.

When humans ingest antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms in food or water, some bacteria may cause illness. These and other species may also serve as a source of AMR genes that other microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract, including human pathogens, can acquire. The health and economic consequences of AMR are potentially enormous. However, its full impact remains hard to estimate. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is working closely with key partners such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO) and others in a global response to the threat of AMR.

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