Two symposia dealing with microbial risks in food have been organised by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in November 2018: “Food-associated viruses”, on the 7th of November and “Antimicrobial resistance in the food chain” between the 8th and 9th of November.
“Microbial risks have arrived in public awareness. Our current representative population survey, the BfR Consumer Monitor, showed that 97% of respondents have heard of salmonella in foods and 89% about antimicrobial resistance, with the majority of them stating that they are concerned about these topics. However, everyone is in a position to minimise personal health risks by ensuring an adequate level of kitchen hygiene,” explained BfR President, Professor Dr Andreas Hensel.
There has been a clear reduction in the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry in recent years. Resistance rates are decreasing at the same time in many areas of livestock farming, albeit to different degrees and not in all areas.
The number of foodborne diseases caused by viruses is increasing continuously. Hepatitis E, for instance, is transmitted via foods produced from infected domestic and wild pigs. Cases of foodborne infections with noroviruses and hepatitis A viruses are also on the rise. To do justice to the growing significance of these viruses, a European Reference Laboratory was set up for foodborne viruses.
Even though the detection methods for viruses in foods have improved considerably in recent years, there is still a need for comprehensive research on how these viruses are transmitted and which measures can prevent their spread.
No all-clear can be given for the antibiotic group of fluoroquinolones. Resistance to them has risen in some bacterial species. As there has been no clear reverse tendency in the frequency of treatment either, scientists are recommending that a close eye be kept on this trend in future.
It is endeavouring to estimate the effects in human medicine and to develop and validate concepts to reduce the frequency of resistant bacteria. All of this is being done within the framework of the “One Health” concept in collaboration with experts from the fields of livestock farming, veterinary medicine, biology and human medicine, both in Germany and abroad.
In recent years, state authorities all over the world have taken measures to control the spread of antimicrobial resistance. The WHO has initiated the “Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance” and with the German Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy (DART 2020), the national government has developed concepts to reduce antimicrobial resistance.
These include the 16th amendment to the German Drug Law of April 2014 which attempts to cover the use of antimicrobial veterinary drugs in livestock fattening businesses in a valid manner. Businesses which use more drugs than comparable businesses must draw up plans and take measures to reduce use.