UK – The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published a report on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the UK, showing that resistance to quinolones (ciprofloxacin and nalidixic acid) and tetracycline is common in the most prevalent types of Campylobacter from chicken.

The study, which delved into the last 20 years of data surrounding AMR in Campylobacter from chicken in the UK, provides a baseline against which to evaluate future AMR activity, with the agency hoping to see resistance dropping.

AMR happens when bacteria adjusts to withstand the destructive effects of antimicrobials like antibiotics. Consequently, human infections could become more challenging to treat.

Any bacterium, including Campylobacter, is susceptible to developing resistance. As the leading bacterial cause of food poisoning in the industrialized world, campylobacter is a major worry for food regulators.

In the UK, there are thought to be more than 500,000 instances each year.

“While the data shows a marked increase in AMR in Campylobacter to certain antimicrobials, it is encouraging that there has been no significant increase in resistance since 2014.

“Any increase of AMR in Campylobacter is a concern and continued surveillance is essential. We will continue to carry out AMR surveillance in chicken and other meats and to monitor any long-term trends in resistance, while promoting good food hygiene practice to reduce exposure to AMR bacteria and protect consumer safety,” remarked Dr Paul Cook, the FSA’s Science lead in Microbiological Risk Assessment.

The report’s key conclusions relate to the five primary categories of antimicrobial medications examined.

The most prevalent forms of Campylobacter from chicken were frequently resistant to quinolones (ciprofloxacin and nalidixic acid) and tetracycline (Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli).

Between 2011 and 2018, there was an increase in the prevalence of C. jejuni isolates with phenotypic resistance to Ciprofloxacin (CIP) from a mean value of 13% in the 2001 to 2005 period to 47%.

In the years from 2014 to 2018, there were no more appreciable increases in the percentages of C. jejuni with resistance to CIP, even if the most recent trend continued to seem to be somewhat growing.

In contrast, the Campylobacter isolates analyzed were substantially less likely to be resistant to erythromycin and streptomycin.

Tetracycline resistance in C. jejuni isolates increased dramatically from 27% in 2001 to 66% in 2018, although there has been no discernible trend in recent years (2014-2018).

Gentamicin resistance was found to be incredibly rare. Through the entire investigation, which comprised the 5,267 C. jejuni and 1,997 C. coli isolates from between 2001 and 2018, only two C. jejuni and two C. coli had a gentamicin (GEN) resistance phenotype.

The researchers advised that trends in AMR in Campylobacter spp. isolates from poultry samples in the UK be tracked, in order to spot any increases in resistance that are concerning as well as any declines.

The FSA advises customers to handle food hygienically to prevent cross contamination, cook food thoroughly, chill food at the appropriate temperature, and clean surfaces properly in order to decrease their exposure to AMR.

In order to help prevent bacterial contamination and visible dirt, consumers should also be sure to thoroughly wash and peel any veggies consumed raw.

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