safefood calls on a ‘one health’ approach to combat antimicrobial resistance

Conference highlights the role of food and food processing in the development of resistance to certain antibiotics

April 28, 2010. safefood today played host to an ‘Antimicrobial resistance and food safety conference’, which brought together leading authorities from Ireland and the UK to share their findings on the growing problems of antimicrobial resistance in the food chain and the threat to human health.

A subject of major interest from a research, human health and industrial perspective, the study of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the food chain has to date largely focused on the beginning of the food chain (veterinary) and the end (human health). The aim of safefood’s conference is to ensure the roles that food-producing animals, food processing and the use of sanitizing agents play in causing and spreading antimicrobial resistance, is also considered in the wider analysis.

Speaking at the one day conference, Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director of Human Health and Nutrition at safefood said;

“Effective surveillance of food related antimicrobial resistance needs to involve all the inter-related elements - namely food, animals and man. Inappropriate use of antimicrobial agents in food producing animals can have an adverse impact on human health; it isn’t just inappropriate use in humans that results in resistance. This ‘one health’ approach allows us to form a far more comprehensive picture so we are better placed to understand the scale of the situation and plan accordingly with ongoing interventions and further research.

We are delighted to welcome such influential speakers to this conference which is the first of its kind on the island. It is vitally important to share information and knowledge with all those involved in the food chain here and in doing so, to develop the actions required to address AMR, ensuring greater consumer protection.”

The conference was attended by all sectors of the food industry on the island of Ireland, including producers, processors, food scientists and technologists. Public health specialists, vets and veterinary inspectors, general practitioners, researchers, policy makers and regulators were also at the conference .They discussed the current situation with AMR associated with food on the island (NI + ROI) and Europe. A workshop looked at the means of linking surveillance and food safety, veterinary prescribing and antimicrobial resistance in food animal practice and the food industry processes and the link to AMR.

Key speakers at the conference included:-

  • Bert Houston, Chief Veterinary Officer, DARD
  • Olive Murphy, Consultant Medical Microbiologist, Bon Secours Hospital
  • John Threlfall, Director of Laboratory of Enteric Pathogens, HPA, UK
  • Martin Cormican, Director, National Salmonella Reference Laboratory, ROI
  • Paddy Rogan, Chief Veterinary Officer, DAFF
  • Shay Fanning, Director of Centre of Food Safety, UCD
  • James Gibbons, Vet and Researcher, UCD
  • David McDowell, professor of Food Studies, UU

View safefood's report, “The Problem of Antimicrobial Resistance in the Food Chain”


For further information please contact:

Claire Hutchinson / Sarah Eakin at Smarts

Telephone: 028 9039 5512/ 028 9039 5521

Email: /

Editor’s Notes

What is antimicrobial resistance?

Antibiotics are important drugs used in the treatment of bacterial infections in both humans and animals. Emerging antibiotic, or antimicrobial, resistance among certain bacteria is now frequently observed, thereby posing a serious threat to public health. Once these micro-organisms become resistant to one or more antibiotics, they do not respond to therapy.