EFSA is working with key EU actors to reduce antimicrobial resistance
In 2001 the European Commission launched an EU strategy to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance to human, animal and plant health. It included the phasing out of antibiotics for non-medical use in animals, and covered a range of actions at EU and national level in the areas of data collection, surveillance, research and awareness-raising.
EU legislation on animal nutrition banned the use of antibiotics used for growth promotion in animal feed from January 2006.
In 2007, EFSA published specifications for the harmonised monitoring of antimicrobial resistance in two important zoonotic bacteria – Salmonella and Campylobacter – found in animals and foods.
In 2008 EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards issued an opinion examining how food may become a vehicle for transmitting antimicrobial resistant bacteria to humans. It made recommendations for preventing and controlling transmission, highlighting good hygiene practices at all stages of the food chain as a critical prevention and control factor. EFSA published further specifications for the harmonised monitoring of antimicrobial resistance in Escherichia coli and enterococci bacteria in animals and foods.
ECDC organised the first annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day (18 November) to raise awareness about the threat to public health of antibiotic resistance and prudent antibiotic use.
In 2009 the Panel on Biological Hazards assessed the public health significance of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in animals and foods. It concludes that livestock-associated MRSA represents only a small proportion of all reported MRSA infections in the EU with significant differences between Member States. EFSA also published the results of an EU-wide baseline survey on MRSA in pigs.
In a joint opinion by EFSA, ECDC, EMA and Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks concluded that antimicrobial resistance was increasing worldwide and raised specific concern in human medicine about bacterial resistance to antibiotics used in the treatment of Salmonella and Campylobacter infections – the two most reported zoonotic infections in Europe.
In 2010, EFSA published the first EU Summary Reports on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria found in animals and foods covering the years 2004-2008.
As of 2011 EFSA and ECDC have been compiling a joint report on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria affecting humans, animals and food. The report makes an important contribution to work being carried out at European level and assists the European Commission as it develops its proposals for action to fight antimicrobial resistance.
In a joint report published in 2015, the three sister agencies EFSA, ECDC and EMA concluded that the use of certain antimicrobials in animals and humans is associated with the occurrence of resistance to these antimicrobials.