In a new report published by EFSA, the use of whole genome sequencing can improve the way antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is monitored in food and animals. EFSA suggest that these monitoring methods could be gradually introduced into Member State monitoring activities. This revised legislation will come into action in 2021.
The method of whole genome sequencing allows experts to identify resistant genes in bacteria as opposed to current phenotypical methods which test bacteria for resistance to specific antibiotics. This will generate a lot of data which can be used for other epidemiological studies and analysis, in addition to detecting AMR competently.
Following the recent expansion of aquaculture production and the increase in imported products to the EU, EFSA highlighted the importance of monitoring AMR in seafood, since little is known about this. Experts also stressed the importance of understanding how AMR emerges and spreads in the environment where food is produced or processed.
The EFSA report also gives recommendations on sample sizes and suggests monitoring of resistance to antibiotics that have become relevant for public health and that are not currently monitored. A critical component of responding to AMR is monitoring, we not only need to efficiently monitor AMR but we need to ensure we achieve better and earlier detection of AMR in food and animals. This is also one of the priorities of the EU action plan on AMR.
EFSA reviewed the way monitoring of AMR is currently done in the EU considering the latest scientific and technological developments. Read the report published by EFSA on AMR in food and animals here.