Antimicrobials, such as antibiotics, are substances used to kill microorganisms or to stop them from growing and multiplying. They are commonly used in human and veterinary medicine to treat a wide variety of infectious diseases.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) refers to the ability of microorganisms to withstand antimicrobial treatments. The overuse or misuse of antibiotics has been linked to the emergence and spread of microorganisms which are resistant to them, rendering treatment ineffective and posing a serious risk to public health. A well known example of a bacterium that has acquired resistance to multiple antibiotics is Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Resistant bacteria can spread through many routes. When AMR occurs in zoonotic bacteria present in animals and food it can also compromise the effective treatment of infectious diseases in humans.
In the field of food safety, policy makers need to protect consumers from risks related to the food chain and to establish the best control options to reduce such risks. Scientists and risk assessors are examining the factors which may lead to the presence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in food and animals to provide appropriate scientific advice to decision makers.