Role of food in human exposure to resistant bacteria

by Editor
Monday, April 21, 2008

According to EFSA human beings are increasingly exposed to bacteria resistant to antimicrobials through food products.

This is obviously a result of the use of antimicrobial agents in animals, plants and food production contributing to a growing, diverse range of resistant bacteria and of bacteria-borne resistant genes the European Food Safety Authority’s BIOHAZ Panel said in a self-task draft opinion.

EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) asked its BIOHAZ Panel to identify, from a public health perspective, the extent of how food serves as a vehicle for antimicrobial resistance and the BIOHAZ Panel has launched a public consultation on this opinion and a call for additional scientific data both with a deadline of 27 May, 2008.

The draft opinion says that general principles applied to the prevention and control of the transmission of harmful bacteria to humans through food, including the sustained practice of improved hygiene at all stages of the food chain, will contribute to the prevention and control of the transmission of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria by this route.

Antimicrobial resistance of bacteria is a growing concern as antimicrobials become less effective in fighting human infections. This coincides with a rise in bacterial resistance to antimicrobials in animal populations. Resistant Salmonella and Campylobacter involved in human disease are mostly spread through food. The principal foods carrying such antimicrobial resistant bacteria are poultry meat, eggs, pork or beef. Contamination during preparation, handling and processing of fresh food of plant origin, such as salads, is also of concern.