Study explores AMR bacteria presence in supermarket meat


Monday, 09 May, 2022

Study explores AMR bacteria presence in supermarket meat

New research by the Monash University Centre to Impact AMR investigated the presence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in packaged meat from Australian supermarkets.

Aired by the ABC’s 7.30 program, the research — commissioned by World Animal Protection — found high levels of bacteria resistant to medically important antibiotics, typically used as first- and second-line treatment for humans.

AMR is driven by the overuse or inappropriate use of antibiotics. In Australia, the animal agriculture industry is a major user of antibiotics and evidence suggests that they use them in ways that could foster antimicrobial resistance, said World Animal Protection in a statement.

“Unlike the EU, Australia continues to allow antibiotics to be routinely administered to promote growth and to groups of animals who are not sick. The use of antimicrobials for growth promotion purposes was outlawed in the UK and the EU in 2006 because of concerns that it can drive antimicrobial resistance. This year, the EU banned the use of antimicrobials for preventative purposes, again due to concerns that it could contribute to antimicrobial resistance.

“Also of concern in Australia is the lack of transparency about the volume of antibiotics being used on Australian farms. The last publicly available data is from 2014 and covers the period 2005–10. In comparison, many countries in Europe provide annual reports on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.”

Rochelle Flood, Campaign Manager, World Animal Protection, said the 7.30 program has highlighted the need for greater urgency in our response to the AMR threat. “We need a comprehensive monitoring and surveillance system for antimicrobial use and resistance, as advocated by Monash University and countless studies and actions plans in Australia. In addition, we need much greater transparency on the use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture, as is common in other countries.

The information about what is being used, on what animals and in what way, must be made public so that we can hold the industry to account and ensure that they are playing their role in addressing antimicrobial resistance by reducing the use of antibiotics and using them appropriately, Flood said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Monkey Business

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