Carbapenems are antimicrobials used for the treatment of serious infections in humans. Resistance of bacteria to carbapenems poses a public health risk as it could leave few available therapeutic options for patients. To date, only a few studies have reported carbapenem-resistant bacteria in food-producing animals.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) asked the Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) to provide a scientific opinion on the carbapenem resistance in food animal ecosystems.
Because there are no data on the comparative efficicacy of individual control options in reducing the potential public health risks caused by CP bacteria related to food-producing animals, prioritisation is complex. At present, carbapenems are not licensed for use in food-producing animals in the EU and other parts of the world, and therefore one simple and effective control option to minimise the further emergence and possible spread of such strains transmitted via the food chain would be to continue to prohibit the use of carbapenems in food-producing animals. Furthermore, as genes encoding carbapenemase production are mostly plasmid-mediated, and co-resistance may be an important issue in the spread of such plasmid-mediated resistance mechanisms, decreasing the frequency of use of antimicrobials in animal production in the EU in accordance with prudent use guidelines is also of high priority. The effectiveness of any control measures should be monitored on a regular basis by targeted surveys of food-producing animals and foods for CP bacteria, using selective isolation methods and pre-enrichment of samples as necessary.
Finally the Panel strongly recommends that control measures to contain the spread of CP bacteria in food-producing animals should be proactively implemented at national and international levels. Such plans should be agreed to prevent CP strains become widespread in livestock.
Tuesday December 17, 2013/ EFSA/ European Union.