The report is published as the President of the UN General Assembly convenes a one-day high-level meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York to discuss AMR.
Professor Poppy says: 'Antimicrobial resistance means that it’s harder, or impossible, to treat an increasing range of infections. It has been estimated that by 2050 it could be causing the deaths of 10 million people a year across the world, not to mention 100 trillion US dollars in cumulative lost economic output.
'The FSA works to protect consumer interests in relation to food, so the role that food plays in the problem of antimicrobial resistance is of concern. While the problem cannot be eliminated, its development can be slowed. We need a holistic approach throughout the food supply chain, and to understand how a whole range of practices, such as how we care for farm animals, handle food or irrigate crops, might affect the spread of antimicrobial resistance to our food, and ultimately to us.'
What is AMR?
AMR is the ability of a microbe to withstand the effects of the antimicrobials. Antimicrobials are the drugs used to treat them, like antibiotics and antivirals. To have this ability, the microbe must have antimicrobial resistance genes (AMR genes). Microbes may be resistant to just one antimicrobial or to many (multi-resistant) depending on which AMR genes they have. This can make infections by these microbes difficult to treat, causing infections to persist.
The FSA’s role
The FSA is working with other Government departments to try and reduce levels of AMR and is specifically working to fully establish the link with food. This is being done through:
- As UK lead in Codex where we are, jointly with Australia and the US, convening a meeting to set the objectives for a Codex Working Group on AMR;
- Working to encourage the adoption of clear transparent reporting standards that help consumers have access to and understand information about the responsible use of antibiotics in the food chain;
- Continued focus on improving the scientific evidence base relating to antimicrobial resistance in the food chain through supporting relevant research and improving surveillance;
- We will also be convening a task and finish group, drawing on the membership of the existing AMR sub-group to the Advisory Committee on Microbiological Safety of Food, to advise us on responsible use of antibiotics in agriculture to support the above work.
The Government response to Lord O’Neill’s Review on AMR has been published and gives a commitment to work nationally and internationally to meet the significant threat that AMR poses to global health, prosperity and security.
It is currently not possible to determine what contribution the use of antimicrobials in agriculture is making to the problem of AMR. However, the FSA agrees with the consensus that unnecessary use of antimicrobials in animals and agriculture is a concern.
Reducing antimicrobials in food production animals is part of the government's strategy for tackling AMR. In protecting consumer’s interest, the FSA is working with others to encourage improvements in animal care and biosecurity. Improvements in these areas will underpin a reduced use of antimicrobials in food production animals.
Codex is an intergovernmental body administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) that develops harmonise science based food standards to protect consumer health and protect fair practices in international food trade.