(Last updated: July 2021)
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to undertake a two-year project looking at antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the Australian food supply.
AMR is widely recognised as a global health priority. Resistant organisms exist in humans, animals, food, plants and the environment. The main driver of this resistance is antimicrobial usage.
The Australian Government has developed a national approach to tackle AMR. Australia's National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy – 2020 and Beyond (the 2020 Strategy) was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in March 2020. It sets a 20-year vision to protect the health of humans and animals by controlling and combating AMR while continuing to have effective antimicrobials available. This holistic and multi-sectoral One Health approach is led by the Australian Government departments of Health and Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Other agencies including FSANZ are involved to ensure a whole-of-government approach.
FSANZ's surveillance project aligns to Objective 5 of the 2020 Strategy and will provide an opportunity to advance the evidence base for AMR in retail food in Australia. The project is in its initial stages with stakeholder consultation due to commence in the second half of 2021. Food sampling will start in 2022.
The project sampling plan and overall design are being developed in consultation with an expert scientific advisory group. A targeted stakeholder engagement strategy is also being developed to ensure project aims, activities and outcomes are effectively communicated and delivered in collaboration with the food sector.
Keep an eye on this web page for project updates.
What is antimicrobial resistance?
Antimicrobials can kill or slow the growth of microbes (in particular bacteria, fungi and viruses) that cause diseases. Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed antimicrobial for humans. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microbes prevent antimicrobials working against them. Some microbes are naturally resistant to antimicrobials, while others can develop resistance through mutation (random changes to DNA) or sharing of genetic material. Diseases caused by resistant microbes can be very difficult to treat.
Globally, there are concerns microbes are increasingly developing antimicrobial resistance both in humans and animals. While it is thought resistance mostly happens due to the overuse of antimicrobials in human medicine, there is some concern the use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals could be contributing.
For more information on AMR and the National Strategy please visit https://www.amr.gov.au