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Working Group 7: Antibiotics and veterinary drugs in foods

WG Leader: Maria Saarela, Hanna-Leena Alakomi, VTT, Finland

Members: Geert Bruggemen, NS, Belgium; Eleni Tzika, Panagiotis Tassis, AUTH, Greece; Estella Prukner-Radovic, VEF, Croatia

Research topics for the future:

Title: Natural antimicrobials for fighting microbial biocide/antimicrobial resistance in the food chain; Development of alternative antimicrobials/treatments (e.g. probiotics) for replacement of antibiotics is essential as resistance for currently existing antibiotics is increasing dramatically. Additional research is needed in the development of new antimicrobials and resistance mechanisms, e.g. cross-resistance biocides-antibiotics.

Title: Persistence of antibiotic resistant microbes in the food chain ; Intensive farming practises have grown farm sizes and in some countries there is an overuse of antibiotics in animal feed. The number of antibiotic resistant strains in the food chain has increased. Persistence of microbes, e.g. sheltered in biofilms in the food chain, is causing spread of antibiotic resistance. Efficient and rapid methods are needed for detection and eradication of pathogens from the food chain.

Relevant publications by the Group:

Manuscript (published in Quality Assurance and Safety of Crops & Foods, ID: QAS-12-2014-0576.R4): Title: Antimicrobial resistance and residues in the EU–current situation and possible countermeasures, emphasis on Campylobacter and Salmonella ; Authors: Horvatec Tomic, D, Höhl, A., Thomas, M., Bruggeman, G., Axelsson, L., Tassis, P., Tzika, E., Pruckner-Radovcic, E., Kneifel, W., Saarela, M. & Alakomi, H-L. ; To be submitted to Quality Assurance and Safety of Crops and Foods (QAS)

Download Article; Download figures

The article´s essential statements: This article aims to give an overview on the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in the food chain (main emphasis on Campylobacter and Salmonella) in European Union. The article gives an overview of the current legal framework in European Union and briefly introduces the most critically important antibiotics and antibiotic residues reported in EU during 2008-2012. In addition, the paper presents methods and alternatives for antibiotic treatment of food animals. Implementing of high level farm biosecurity and controls on animal trade along with good hygiene in the food chain are important in prevention of spread of food pathogens and zoonotic bacteria. Development of alternative antimicrobials for replacement of antibiotics is essential as resistance for currently existing antibiotics is increasing dramatically. Furthermore, harmonisation of monitoring and surveillance systems is needed in order to obtain data which can be well compared.

Title/No. of periodical: Quantitative modelling to estimate the transfer of pharmaceuticals through the food production system. J Environ Sci Health B. 2014 Jul 3;49(7):457-67. doi: 10.1080/03601234.2014.896659. Authors: Chiţescu C.L., Nicolau A.I., Römkens P., Van Der Fels-Klerx H.J., Year of publication: 2014

The article´s essential statements: As use of pharmaceuticals in animal production may cause an indirect route of contamination of food products of animal origin, this study aimed to assess, through mathematical modelling, the transfer of pharmaceuticals from contaminated soil, through plant uptake, into the dairy food production chain. Modelling results confirm the possibility of contamination of dairy cow's meat and milk due the ingestion of contaminated feed by the cattle. Results obtained for oxytetracycline, sulfamethoxazole, and ketoconazole indicate a minor risk for human health. This study showed that supply chain modelling could be an effective tool in assessing the indirect contamination of feedstuff and animal products by residues of pharmaceuticals. The model can easily be adjusted to other contaminants and supply chain and, in this way, present a valuable tool to underpin decision making.