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EU food safety body targets antibiotic use in animals

Among the topics discussed at a meeting of the European Food Safety Authority this week were how to tackle antimicrobial resistance and the rise in Listeria infections.

antibiotics-eraser
Dmytro Kozak | Bigstock.com

Among the topics discussed at a meeting of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) this week were how to tackle antimicrobial resistance and the rise in Listeria infections.

Antonia Ricci, chair of EFSA’s Biological Hazards Panel, explained that the aims of the group are to identify ways to reduce the need for and use of antibiotics in the European Union in order to improve public health. A multifaceted approach and cooperation among all the stakeholders will be required to tackle this challenge, she said.

‘Positive impact on public health’

“Antibiotics are life-savers,” said Ricci, “and we rely on them to treat many important diseases in humans. But the use of antimicrobials leads to resistance and it is really important to limit their use in animals in order to have a positive impact on public health.”

She highlighted the valuable contribution made by medical and veterinary experts who were present as observers to the panel discussion. In particular, Ricci said, they urged the panel to take care in their use of language in the upcoming report on this issue, which is due at the end of this year.

Also discussed at the meeting was the rise in cases of Listeria in the European Union in recent years. Listeria is a frequent disease in Europe, according to Ricci, and it represents a severe threat to some groups in the community. It is known to be a contaminant of some ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, such as smoked salmon and soft cheeses. The EFSA Panel is reviewing the latest data on the increasing incidence of Listeria infections, and is scheduled to publish a report on its findings by the middle of next year.

Recently, the European Commission praised the Danish pig meat industry and the veterinary authority for its action to limit antibiotic usage for pigs, commenting that the measures taken set a good example to other EU Member States.

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