Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

Introduction

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial agent (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antifungals) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others. AMR bacteria are not necessarily pathogens. They can also be commensal bacteria that derive benefits from their association with humans and are generally harmless. As such, people infected by AMR bacteria can be asymptomatic. Nevertheless, AMR is a natural phenomenon. Microorganisms gain resistance spontaneously by gene mutation or gene transfer among each other. 

AMR is also a food safety concern. AMR bacteria developed in animal gut can spread through the food chain. When the food-producing animals are slaughtered, meat and their products can be contaminated by the excreta colonised with AMR bacteria. AMR bacteria can also enter the food chain through fecal contamination of soil or water, and spread to fruits, vegetable or other produce that are irrigated with contaminated water. People may be exposed to AMR bacteria when they consume contaminated food without being thorough cooked, prepare food with poor food hygiene practice, or contact with animal manure. 

The WHO states that inappropriate food-handling encourages the spread of AMR and education in safe food handling is a key measure for prevention of foodborne diseases, including containing AMR. The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has all along been promoting the importance of good personal and environmental hygiene during all food preparation and handling processes. In connection with the education and publicity on AMR in food, the CFS promotes the Five Keys to Food Safety, which are (1) “Choose” (choose safe raw materials), (2) “Clean” (keep hands and utensils clean), (3) “Separate” (separate raw and cooked food), (4) “Cook” (cook thoroughly), and (5) “Safe temperature” (keep food at safe temperature).

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Related Links

Prevent Antimicrobial Resistance
Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health

Let's take action against Antimicrobial Resistance 
Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department