1. What are antimicrobials?

    Antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics – are medicines used to prevent and treat infectious diseases in humans, animals and plants.

  2. What is antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and how does AMR emerge?

    Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial medicines. These microorganisms with AMR are also known as 'superbugs'. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become difficult or impossible to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, disability and death.

    AMR is a natural process that happens over time through genetic changes in pathogens. Its emergence and spread is accelerated by human activity, mainly the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials to treat, prevent or control infections in humans, animals and plants.

  3. Will AMR bacteria be transmitted by food?

    Foods can act as a potential vehicle for transmission of AMR bacteria. Foods of animal origin can become contaminated during slaughter and carcass dressing, while foods of plant origin can be contaminated by affected environment, water and manures.

    In addition, foods can also become contaminated at different points of post-harvest stage. For example, foods can be contaminated with AMR bacteria by infected food handlers particularly if they do not observe good hygienic practices when handling foods; or through improper food processing or unhygienic food preparation environment.

  4. What kind of food is of higher risks?

    The World Health Organization considers that foods of animal origin represent the major route of human exposure to foodborne pathogens with AMR. In general, raw or undercooked foods are more likely to carry bacteria, including AMR bacteria, derived from the primary production than thoroughly cooked foods.

  5. How to avoid spreading AMR via food?

    Thorough cooking before consumption is the most effective way to kill "superbugs" that may be present in food. Consumers should however be aware of the inherent risk of contracting "superbugs" when they eat certain raw and undercooked ready-to-eat food. Susceptible populations such as pregnant women, infants and young children, the elderly and people with weakened immunity (i.e. people with chronic diseases or those on antibiotics treatment, antacid and long-term steroids or drugs given to prevent transplant rejection, etc) are of higher risk and should therefore avoid eating raw and undercooked ready-to-eat foods. 

    Furthermore, observance of good hygienic practices can minimise cross-contamination by both superbugs and bad bugs. Following the 5 Keys to Food Safety (

    1.      Choose Safe Raw Materials,

    2.      Keep Hands and Utensils Clean,

    3.      Separate Raw and Cooked Food,

    4.      Cook Thoroughly, and

    5.      Keep Food at Safe Temperature) in daily life for food handling is important for combating superbugs, as well as other bad bugs. 

  6. What are the measures to contain AMR in the food chain?

    To effectively minimise the emergence and contain the spread of AMR in the food chain, coordinated effort from people in all sectors, including veterinary profession, agriculture, environment and food industry is needed. Preventive measures are of the utmost importance. For example, farmers should optimise the use of antimicrobials in livestock. Antibiotics should not be used as growth promoters. Veterinarians should assist food animal production farm to adopt good husbandry practices to reduce the need of antimicrobials. Food producers should take effective sanitation measures to maintain food hygiene and minimise the cross contamination during food processing.