More research needed on antimicrobial resistance via food animals: FAO report

A new report discusses pathways linking food animal production, environment and humans health

By Mouna Nagaraju
Published: Wednesday 16 November 2016

No mandatory bio-security standards have been notified for poultry farms in India

A Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) report says that food animals may be the most important route transmitting resistant bacteria to human beings.

The report recognises that antimicrobial medicine is being used in food animal production for   non-therapeutic purposes.

It also asks for knowledge gaps in antimicrobial resistance spread to be addressed for better prevention. The report explores pathways of the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among food animal production, environment and humans.

It also studies factors driving antimicrobial usage in food animal production, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where food animal farming is growing. The report says that transmission pathways for resistant bacteria in these countries are likely to be more complex and multi-directional.

Titled “Drivers, Dynamics and Epidemiology of Antimicrobial Resistance in Animal Production”, the report was released by the FAO on November 15.

It highlights the need for research and data on areas including molecular sequencing and epidemiological studies of resistant bacteria. The report says that the information will help draw association between use of antimicrobials in farms and resistance in food-borne bacteria. It will also help in understanding the relationship between resistance in livestock and resistance infections in humans, the report says.

The report also suggests that antimicrobial residues should be monitored regularly in the environment in a manner similar to hazardous substances. It adds that cost-effective hygiene practices must be applied in all farming systems, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) protocols be followed and that a “One Health” approach is essential for all future research. One Health is an agreement among the World Health Organization (WHO), FAO and World Organisation for Animal Health to address antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance status in India

A CSE study conducted in 2014 not only revealed antimicrobial residues in chicken meat, but also showed the rampant misuse of antibiotics in food animal production, especially in poultry industry. CSE’s study on the practices followed in aquaculture in West Bengal conducted earlier this year revealed use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes and also improper waste management.  

There are no mandatory bio-security standards to be followed in poultry farms nor is there any monitoring of antimicrobial residues and resistant bacteria in food animal setting or in the environment. 

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