Antibiotics are being used less often in animals according to EFSA

According to the latest study released by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), antibiotic use in food-producing animals has declined and is now lower than in people. The study was performed by the three EU agencies taking a One Health approach and offering statistics on antibiotic usage and the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) across Europe from 2016 to 2018.

The considerable decrease in antibiotic usage in food-producing animals shows that country-level efforts to limit antibiotic use are working. Between 2016 and 2018, the use of a class of antibiotics known as polymyxins, which includes colistin, in food-producing animals decreased by half. Polymyxins are also used in hospitals to treat patients afflicted with multidrug-resistant germs, so this is a great development.

Nevertheless, the situation in the EU is complex, with substantial differences between countries and antibiotic classes. Aminopenicillins, third- and fourth- generation cephalosporins, and quinolones (fluoroquinolones and other quinolones), for example, are used more in humans than in food-producing animals, but polymyxins (colistin) and tetracyclines are utilized to the greater extent in food-producing animals.

The use of carbapenems, 3rd- and 4th-generation cephalosporins, and quinolones in humans is linked to antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli infections, according to the research. Similar connection was discovered for food-producing animals. Furthermore, the antimicrobial consumption in animals is linked to AMR in bacteria from food-producing animals, which is linked to AMR in bacteria from humans, according to the research. Campylobacter spp. bacteria, which are prevalent in food-producing animals and cause foodborne illnesses in humans, is an example of this.

AMR is a major global public health issue that also has a substantial economic impact. The conclusions given in this study, as well as the One Health strategy established by EFSA, EMA, and ECDC, urge for continuing efforts to combat AMR at the national, EU, and global levels throughout the healthcare sectors.