EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ Panel) has launched an open consultation on the draft Opinion concerning “Foodborne antimicrobial resistance as a biological hazard”. This draft Opinion is an EFSA self-tasking issue.
Antimicrobial resistant bacteria are biological hazards resulting in increased human morbidity and mortality and are of public health concern. The use of antimicrobial agents in animals, plant production and the production of other sources of food and feed has adverse public health consequences by creating a reservoir of resistant bacteria and of bacteria-borne resistance genes that can be passed on to humans, both directly or indirectly. In addition, food handlers can contaminate food during preparation, and the presence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in food may be the result of environmental contamination, e.g. from water sources, in the case of aquacultural and horticultural produce in particular, or from bacteria intentionally added to the food chain. The extent and relative importance of the contribution of each of these pathways to the risk of antimicrobial resistance in microorganisms of human health concern is unknown.
The Scientific Panel on Biological Hazards is asked, from a public health perspective,
- To identify in terms of qualitative risk, the extent to which food serves as a source for the acquisition, by humans of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria or bacteria-borne antimicrobial resistance genes.
- To rank the identified risks.
- To identify potential control options for reducing exposure.
Furthermore, the document explores potential approaches and data requirements for carrying out an exposure assessment of humans to antimicrobial resistant bacteria via the food chain.
In line with EFSA’s policy on openness and transparency and in order for EFSA to receive comments from the scientific community and stakeholders on its work, EFSA engages in public consultations on key issues. In this respect EFSA would be grateful to receive relevant comments on its draft scientific Opinion on “Foodborne antimicrobial resistance as a biological hazard”.
Interested parties are invited to submit written comments by 27 May 2008. The outcome of this consultation will be taken into account for the revision of this Opinion before its adoption by the BIOHAZ panel. Please exclusively use the electronic template provided with the documents to submit comments and refer to the line numbering. Comments submitted by email or via surface mail cannot be taken into account.
In order to further develop the analysis of this issue, EFSA has also published a call for data on prevalence of certain antimicrobial resistant bacteria in foods.