Antimicrobial Resistance Working Group meeting 15 March 2017

Last updated:
11 September 2017
Summary of the fifteenth meeting of the Group

EFSA/EMA opinion to reduce overall need of use of antimicrobials

The group received a presentation from the co-chair of the EU Working Group on the Reduction of the need to use antimicrobials in food-producing animals (RONAFA) on the outcome of RONAFA’s review. Members were informed that the subject of the use of antimicrobials in food producing animals started in 2013 via a self-tasking group set-up by EFSA. This evolved through a mandate (by European Commission) to EFSA and the European Medicine Agency (EMA) for a joint opinion on measures to reduce the need to use antimicrobial agents in animal husbandry in the EU and the resulting impact on food safety. The opinion was adopted by EFSA BIOHAZ panel and EMA CVMP (Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use) in December 2016 and published in January 2017.

It was reported that RONAFA had 5 terms of reference (ToR 1: Review measures to reduce the use of AM; ToR 2: Assess the impact of such measures on AMR); ToR 3: Review measures to reduce the need to use AM; ToR 4: Assess the impact of such measures on AMR; ToR 5: Recommend options to reduce antimicrobial use in the EU. 

Members noted that to assist in the formulation of the opinion RONAFA reviewed published information available on specific measures applied by Member States (MSs), available data on the sale and use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals, including circumstances and diseases where antimicrobials are most intensively used, AMR surveillance data and scientific publications. Additional information was also collected through questionnaires to stakeholders and evidence from external experts. The focus of the study was on cattle, pig and poultry production systems, other food-producing species were also considered where information was available.

Members welcomed RONAFA’s report and agreed to consider the implication from a UK perspective and relate their views to the universal trends. 

Establishing a short-term task on AMR

As part of the Agency’s new strategic approach to surveillance on AMR, the group at its November 2016 meeting briefly considered the FSA’s proposal to establish a short-term “task-and-finish” on AMR. Further details on this proposed new group were presented to the group for discussion. Members were asked to consider the draft terms of reference, proposed membership, timescale and structure of the meetings and expected output.

Draft term of reference
To identify research questions and potential approaches which would (i) decrease uncertainty about any linkage between use of antimicrobials in food production, the incidence of antimicrobial resistance in pathogens and commensals in food production, and the growing AMR-related public health burden, and (ii) allow us to model the impacts of changes in use of antimicrobials in food production. Poultry, sheep, cattle and pigs will be covered in the scope.

Following discussion Members agreed with the FSA’s proposal that meetings of the group will focus on delivering the terms of reference.

Member noted the FSA’s expectation that the work of the group will result in the development/enhancement of a conceptual model incorporated within a report/paper of the group’s findings which will contain any recommendations. The report will be presented to the full ACMSF. 

Update on recent activities relating to AMR

Members were informed that the Codex Alimentarius working group on AMR met in London from 29 November to 2 December 2016. The working group was hosted by the UK and co-chaired by the USA and Australia. It was reported that the issues considered include:

  •  Proposal for new work on the revision of the Code of Practice to Minimise and contain Antimicrobial Resistance and
  • Proposal for new work on the Guidance on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance

Finalised documents on the above proposals will be circulated to members when they are available.

The group noted the publication of the FSA risk assessment on MRSA with focus on LA-MRSA in the UK food chain  (published in February 2017).

Highlights of the recent Defra Antimicrobial Resistance Coordination meeting was drawn the group’s attention. These include:

  • The resurgence of S.Typhimurium DT104 (that carries pentavalent resistance) in sheep, cattle and horses
  • Active occurrence of ESBL E.coli in livestock
  • AMR in companion animals
  • EFSA opinion on AMR in milk