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Food Safety Focus (184th Issue, November 2021) – Article 4

Fight against Antimicrobial Resistance in the Food Chain

The theme of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021 is 'Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance'. Suceptible populations including pregnant women, infants and young children, the elderly and people with weakened immunity (e.g. on antibiotic treatment or antacids) should avoid consuming raw or undercooked foods. Consuming raw or undercooked foods with no or inadequate heat treatment is more likely to contract 'superbugs'.

'Superbugs' are microorganisms that have developed antimicrobial resistance to stop a wide range of antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics, from working against them. Whether or not 'superbugs' can cause illnesses, they may transfer their antibiotic resistance genes to other bacteria in our body and consequently reduce the effectiveness of antimicrobials.  

To address antimicrobial resistance in the food chain, food should be cooked until the core temperature reaching 75°C, which can kill most bacteria including 'superbugs'. In addition, observance of the Five Keys to Food Safety, like maintaining good hand hygiene, can minimise cross-contamination of food by 'superbugs'. The trade can indicate the presence of raw or undercooked foods on the menus and provide a consumer advisory for consumers to make informed choices.