EUROPE – The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has set the ball rolling on a new assessment looking at the risk of antimicrobial resistant bacteria spreading during animal transport.

The assessment, which was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), will focus on the risk of resistant zoonotic bacteria spreading among poultry, pigs and cattle during transport to other farms or to slaughterhouses.

When antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs in zoonotic bacteria – bacteria that can be passed from animals to humans – it can also compromise the effective treatment of infectious diseases in humans.

EFSA’s Chief Scientist, Marta Hugas pointed out that resistance to antimicrobials is an urgent public health threat, and evidence-based advice is critical to developing policy and legislation to meet this challenge.

“This new mandate, which focuses on the possible implications for human health,  illustrates once again the growing convergence between animal and human health and the need for a One Health approach by assessors and policymakers,” he highlighted.

As well as investigating the factors that can cause the spread of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria through transport, EFSA will also review  preventive measures and control options, and identify data needs to support further analysis of the issue.

The request emerged from discussions held over the past year between the European Parliament, the European Commission and EFSA. The final scientific opinion is expected to be finalized by September 2022.

EFSA monitors and analyses the situation on AMR in food and animals across Europe. The Authority is assisted by the Network for zoonoses monitoring data, a pan-European network of national representatives and international organizations that assist EFSA by gathering and sharing information on zoonotic diseases in their respective countries.

Based on data collected by the EU Member States, EFSA produces in cooperation with European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) annual European Union Summary Reports on zoonotic infections, food-borne outbreaks and AMR illustrating the evolving situation in Europe.

EFSA also publishes baseline survey reports on the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in the EU in specific animal populations, for instance MRSA in pigs, and provides guidance to national authorities how to carry out their monitoring and reporting activities.

In June 2017 the Commission adopted the EU One Health Action Plan against AMR, as requested by the Member States in the Council conclusions of 17 June 2016. It builds on the 2011 action plan, its evaluation, the feedback received on a European Commission Roadmap on AMR and a public consultation.

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