Continuous decline in the overall proportion of Salmonella isolates that were multi-drug resistant between 2011 and 2013.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

April 14, 2015

3 Min Read
Antimicrobial resistance trends decreasing

Two new reports from the Food and Drug Administration – the 2012 Retail Meat Report and the 2013 Retail Meat Interim Report - showed mostly decreasing antimicrobial resistance trends.

FDA measures antimicrobial resistance in certain bacteria isolated from raw meat and poultry collected through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), which focuses on resistance to antibiotics that are considered important in human medicine as well as multidrug resistance.


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.

Although current cephalosporin resistance levels are above 2002 levels, 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% in 2009 to 28% in 2012 and continued to decline to 20% in 2013. Resistance in ground turkey peaked in 2011 at 22% and declined to 18% in 2012, falling to 9% by 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.

While multi-drug resistant Salmonella (resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics) was detected in all retail meat sources 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.

The National Chicken Council said it was pleased with the many positive trends in the data continue, including a decrease in resistance to 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. 

Peterson added, "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.” 

According to a FDA 2013 summary report on the antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals released April 10, from 2009 through 2013, domestic sales and distribution of antimicrobials approved for use in food-producing animals that are not currently medically important (NCMI) increased by 14%, but decreased 2% from 2012 through 2013. The increase of 14% from 2009 through 2013 reflects a 19% increase in sales and distribution of ionophores.

In March, the Obama administration released a plan to slow development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The $1.2 billion plan’s primary purpose is to direct activities by the federal government to address antibiotic resistance, but it also is designed to guide action by public health and healthcare professionals and veterinarians “in a common effort to address urgent and serious drug-resistant threats that affect people in the U.S. and around the world.”

Obama’s $1.2 billion funding request is not included in the recently passed Republican budgets in the House and Senate, though the two bodies will now head to a conference committee where changes can still be made.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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