1 Sep 2017
An antibiotic is an antimicrobial drug used to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals. However, bacteria can change and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. The more we use and misuse antibiotics could increase the resistance of bacteria to them. This is known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Like humans, animals (including farm animals) carry bacteria. when antibiotics are given to animals, the drugs kill most of the bacteria, but resistant bacteria can survive and multiply. These resistant bacteria can be passed on, in the following ways.
Faecal contamination, when the animal is slaughtered or when used as manure, could transfer AMR microbes to the environment and meat products. Vegetables, fruit and shellfish can become contaminated if the water used to grow them, or which they live in, has AMR microbes.
Food may be contaminated by AMR microbes in the environment. If food is handled on contaminated surfaces or without the right hygiene practises, AMR bacteria can spread from one type of food to another (cross-contamination).