Antimicrobial Resistance Working Group meeting 29 September 2015

Last updated:
1 April 2016
Summary of the 9th meeting of the group.

Risk assessment on Livestock Associated Meticillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) in the food chain

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) presented the group with its revised draft risk assessment on LA-MRSA in the food chain. The group had commented on an earlier version at its June 2015 meeting and the FSA was asked to fill the gaps that were identified in the document. The scope of the revised risk assessment has been widen to cover all MRSA but has its focus on LA-MRSA. Following discussion additional comments were provided and members who were not present at the meeting were encouraged to forward comments to the Secretariat. The FSA is aiming to finalise a draft document by the end of the year and anticipate publishing by spring 2016.

Intemingled Klebsiella pneumoniae Populations between Retail Meats and Human Urinary Tract Infections

Members considered the findings of the above study that was carried out to better understand the potential contribution of foodborne Klebsiella pneumoniae to human infections. The study concluded had that Meat-source K. pneumoniae isolates were more likely than clinical isolates to be antibiotic resistant, which could reflect selective pressures from antibiotic use in food-animal production. The close genetic relatedness of meat-source and clinical isolates, coupled with similarities in virulence, suggest that the barriers to transmission between these 2 sources are low. Taken together, the study results suggested that retail meat is a potential vehicle for transmitting virulent, antibiotic-resistant K. pneumoniae from food animals to humans.

Following consideration the group agreed that the conclusions of study together with the number of isolates looked at showed the need for studies to be repeated in other countries. It was acknowledged that there were a number of unknowns on K. pneumoniae compared to LA-MRSA and MRSA.

Presentation relating to Veterinary Medicines Research and development and Surveillance Programme and other relevant issues relating to AMR in the food chain

The group had invited the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to provide an update on progress being made on the Commission’s 5 year action plan on AMR, including the amendments to the Veterinary Medicine Regulations and other relevant issues relating to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in foods.

It was reported that data is collected on sales and usage of antibiotics in cattle, pigs and poultry, and there is scanning and structured surveillance for resistance.  The structured surveillance focusses on the pathogens of importance to human health.  EU legislation, (2013/652) requires surveillance which alternates between poultry and pigs each year (poultry in 2014, pigs in 2015).

It was confirmed that a cross-government forum (with representation from Department of Health, Public Health England, Animal and Plant Health Agency, FSA and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Northern Ireland) has been established to consider MRSA surveillance. Members noted that a joint PHE and VMD study is to be carried out to assess the number of people in contact with livestock who are colonised. Results of study would be published in the autumn of 2016.  In the meantime the above forum is developing guidance for people in contact with livestock on how to reduce the risk of zoonosis, which will go on Gov.UK and other relevant websites.

The main strands of the VMD’s Research and Development strategy were outlined and members were updated on some research projects that are currently underway which have relevance for food. The group was also updated on the activities of the EU Working Group on AMR.

Members commented on the planned joint PHE and VMD MRSA study.

UK One Health Report (Joint report on human and animal antibiotic use, sales and resistance, 2013)

The above report published in July 2015 was drawn to the group’s attention. It comprises a collation of data on antibiotic resistance in humans and animals from the 4 UK health administrations.  Ten recommendations were made and the next report will give an update on progress towards these.  One of these recommendations is that human and animal surveillance bodies should produce a further report in 2 years encompassing robust data collected by the FSA on the burden of AMR in imported food animals.

Update on the activities of Defra AMR Coordination Group (DARC)

Members were updated on the outcome of the September 2015 DARC meeting. It was reported that DARC discussed:

  • Ways to harmonise the testing for the presence of LA-MRSA prior to publication.
  • Contingency planning in the event of any of the animal health laboratories finding high risk resistant bacteria (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae).  
  • European Union Antibiotic awareness day scheduled for 18 November 2015.
  • VMD funded research project on AMR (antibiotic usage in cattle and feeding of waste milk to calves).

Update on the FSA’s systematic literature review to assess the significance of the food chain in the context of AMR

The group was updated on progress being made on the above systematic review.

Workplan discussion on future meetings

The group discussed its workplan for future meetings.