The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released two reports today that measure antimicrobial resistance in certain bacteria isolated from raw meat and poultry collected through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). The reports – the 2012 Retail Meat Report and the 2013 Retail Meat Interim Report – showed mostly decreasing antimicrobial resistance trends.
NARMS focuses on resistance to antibiotics that are considered important in human medicine as well as multidrug resistance (described by the FDA as resistance to three or more classes of antibiotics). Under the NARMS program, samples are collected from humans, food producing animals and retail meat sources, and tested for bacteria, specifically non-typhoidal Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli and Enterococcus, to determine whether such bacteria are resistant to antibiotics used in human and veterinary medicine.
Among the key findings of the reports released today:
- A recent decrease in third-generation cephalosporin resistance among poultry meats continued in 2012 and 2013.
- Resistance in Salmonella from retail chicken declined from a peak of 38 percent in 2009 to 28 percent in 2012 and continued to decline to 20 percent in 2013.
- Salmonella from retail meats remained susceptible to ciprofloxacin, one of the most important antibiotics for treating Salmonella infections. Similarly, Salmonella from retail meats were susceptible to azithromycin, another important antibiotic recommended for treatment of Salmonella and other intestinal pathogens.
- There was a continuous decline in the overall proportion of Salmonella isolates that were multi-drug resistant between 2011 and 2013.
- In 2012, only 1% of C. jejuni from retail chicken were resistant to erythromycin, the drug of choice for treating Campylobacter infections.
“NCC is pleased to see many positive trends in the data continue, including a decrease in resistance in several foodborne pathogens, and that first-line antibiotics remain effective in treating illnesses,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., National Chicken Council vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs.
“Analyzing resistance patterns, as these reports do, is much more meaningful to public health outcomes than examining antibiotic sales data. These reports provide a strong case that the continued judicious use of antibiotics by poultry and livestock producers is aiding in the reduction of resistance in various foodborne pathogens.
“One thing consumers should remember is that all pathogens potentially found on raw chicken, regardless of strain or resistance profile, are fully destroyed by handling the product properly and cooking it to an internal temperature of 165°F.”