Published in Food Safety
Joint EFSA and ECDC report: resistant bacteria remain an important issue that can affect humans through animals and food

The third joint EFSA and ECDC report on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria affecting humans, animals and foods shows the continued presence of resistance to a range of antimicrobials in Salmonella and Campylobacter, the main bacteria causing food-borne infections in the European Union (EU). Nevertheless, co-resistance (combined resistance) to two critically important antimicrobials, remains low. The report is based on data collected by EU Member States for 2011.


A high proportion of Campylobacter bacteria,the primary cause of foodborne diseases in the EU, found in humans, food-producing animals and foodwas resistant to the critically important antimicrobial ciprofloxacin whereas low resistance was recorded for erythromycin, a second critically important antimicrobial. Overall in the EU, co-resistanceto critically important antimicrobials was low, which indicates that treatment options remain available so far for severe infections with these bacteria. In addition, high resistance was recorded for commonly used antimicrobials.

In Salmonella multidrug resistance, or resistance to at least three different antimicrobial classes, was high overall in the EU. In humans, a high proportion of Salmonella was found to be resistant to commonly used antimicrobials and this was also the case for animals, especially pigs and turkeys. High resistance to ciprofloxacin in isolates from poultry was also observed. Nonetheless, there were low levels of co-resistance to critically important antimicrobials among Salmonella from humans, food-producing animals and food.

“If we do not want to lose a number of antimicrobials which today provide an effective treatment against bacterial infections in humans, then  joint efforts in the EU, including the Member States, healthcare professionals, industry, farmers and many others are needed", said Bernhard Url, EFSA’s Director of Risk Assessment and Scientific Assistance.

ECDC Director Dr. Marc Sprenger added: “With harmonised surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in isolates from humans and animals, we can inform effective actions to prevent further spread of antimicrobial resistance in humans. To facilitate comparability of data across the EU, ECDC will continue encouraging EU Member States to use the methods and guidelines issued by the European Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST). In addition, ECDC will keep coordinating the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, a European health initiative that provides a platform and support for national campaigns on the prudent use of antibiotics in humans.”

Multidrug resistance, co-resistance and resistance to commonly used antimicrobials needs to be carefully monitored. Antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to public health as it leads to increasing health costs, extra length of stay in the hospital, treatment failures and sometimes death.

The European Union Summary Report on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from humans, animals and food in 2011

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