WAAW 2017 Day 2 – Antibiotics in food and agriculture

Due to its rising prevalence, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global threat to sustainable development. Whilst there are many diverse factors influencing the development and spread of AMR, the use of antibiotics in food production is one that has long been unrecognised. Several food ingredients contribute to AMR through production, processing, and even preparation in kitchens, including hospital kitchens. 

Hospitals and health systems are on the front line when it comes to treating infections, they therefore play an important role in leading global action to protect public health, the environment, and the economy, through the food they choose to procure and serve.

Food: An under-recognised pathway of AMR

There are a number of risks associated with the intensive use of antimicrobials in agriculture; drug-resistant strains of microorganisms can be passed on to humans via:

  • Direct contact with animals on farms
  • Processing, transport, or handling of food animals and food
  • The environment (e.g. contamination of water and soil via manure or waste water discharge from plants manufacturing antibiotics)

To find out more about EU and US policy relating to antibiotics in food and agriculture, you can find our recent policy overview Food pathways to antimicrobial resistance – A call for international action.

Learn more about the issue of antibiotics in food and agriculture by watching our webinar, The (un)recognised pathways of AMR: Air pollution and food. 

Both the EU and U.S. have been adopting policies and measures to diminish the threat of AMR as well as developing strategies and campaigns. Legislation, however, has been proven to be inconsistent and unable to cope with the escalating threat of AMR (i.e. the increasing death toll and high associated health costs). 

 A cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary “One Health” approach should be the next step in expanding the collaboration between these two regions to include more ambitious targets to tackle AMR in the environment and within food supply chains.


Each day during World Antibiotic Awareness Week, HCWH Europe will be sharing articles resources on AMR and Pharmaceuticals in the environment.

Previous days:


Preview image: Liz West via Flickr cc