Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meeting in collaboration with OIE on Foodborne Antimicrobial Resistance: Role of the Environment, Crops and Biocides Rome, Italy, 11 – 15 June 2018

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  • October 22, 2021
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Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meeting in collaboration with OIE on Foodborne Antimicrobial Resistance: Role of the Environment, Crops and Biocides Rome, Italy, 11 – 15 June 2018 

There is clear scientific evidence that foods of plant origin may serve as a vehicle of foodborne exposure to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Fruits, vegetables and other foods of plant origin can become contaminated with antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) anywhere along the food chain, from primary production to consumption. Conventionally and organically grown vegetables to be consumed raw may be vehicles of dissemination of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and their resistance genes to humans. Concerted efforts should be made to mitigate their contamination at all stages of the food chain, from production to consumption. Important sources of microbial contamination in the pre-harvest environment include soil, organic fertilisers and irrigation water. Hence, good agricultural hygienic practices should be employed during pre-harvest stages of food production. Use of antimicrobials in humans and animals selects for antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in faeces. Up to 80% of the antimicrobial administered (as well as copper and zinc from the diet) is excreted in the faeces and urine in an active form. Thus, manure or other organic material that contain human or animal wastes used as soil amendments have the potential to disseminate both residues of antimicrobial agents and antimicrobial-resistant bacteria to the environment. Vegetables harvested from manured ground can carry an additional burden of ARGs of enteric or environmental bacterial origin. 

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