EFSA adopts opinion on antibiotic resistant bacteria

EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) has adopted an opinion on the role of food consumption and processing in human exposure to antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria, an emerging biological hazard caused in part by the use of antimicrobial agents throughout the food chain, from the farm to the fork.

The opinion, “Foodborne antimicrobial resistance as a biological hazard”, says that the general principles on the prevention and control of the transmission of harmful bacteria to humans through food will contribute to prevent the transmission of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria by this route. These principles include the sustained practice of improved hygiene at all stages of the food chain.

The BIOHAZ Panel had launched a public consultation on this opinion and a call for additional scientific data last April. Comments were received from Member States’ food safety authorities, European Community agencies, associations representing sectors of the European food industry, food manufacturers and individuals.

The BIOHAZ Panel took into consideration all the received comments and modified the draft opinion where appropriate.

The opinion represents a basis for further risk assessment studies on AMR bacteria in the food chain, as well as a firm input for risk managers in Europe to develop further approaches in dealing with AMR. It will also serve as a source of information for the European Commission in contributing to the work of the Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance of the Codex Alimentarius.[1]

[1] The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. Further information on the Codex Alimentarius and its task forces.

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