Food safety conference

Antimicrobial resistance: stop arguing and start working together

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety Antibiotic resistance Medicine

Doctors, vets and farmers should stop rowing about who is responsible for the spread of antimicrobial resistance and work together to beat the “apocalyptic threat” it poses.

That was the stark warning from Professor Sarah O’Brien, from the University of Liverpool, delivered at the Food Manufacture Group’s safety conference last week.

In this exclusive video interview, O’Brien told “We have had a situation with medics blaming vets and farmers and vets blaming medics.

‘Going to touch all of us’

It’s time that, as we have seen with leadership from the chief veterinary officer and the chief medical officer, we start to view this as a collective problem because it is going to touch all of us one way or another.”

Resistant organisms are already appearing in the food chain.

Without effective control of the problem, patients may die of what are now treatable infections within 10 to 20 years because antimicrobial resistance has rendered the drugs formerly used to treat them ineffective, she added.

O’Brien also warned that food safety interests should be stoutly defended in the impending trade talks with North America. There were fears that a trade deal might allow US meat products – produced with the heavy use of antimicrobial treatments – might find their way onto European dinner plates.

‘At the forefront of our thinking’

“Food safety and health protection should be at the forefront of our thinking when dealing with trade negotiations,”​ said O’Brien.

Antimicrobial resistance was one of four top threats that will challenge UK food safety in the years ahead, O’Brien told the conference. Discover the other three top threats and two opportunities to help combat them here​.

The food safety conference – Safe and legal food in a changing world – was sponsored by: ACO Building Drainage, Activate Lubricants, AON, Detectamet, FFP Packaging Solutions, the Food Advanced Training Partnership and the Institute of Food Research. It took place at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire on Thursday October 15.

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