The challenges of antimicrobial resistance in the food chain

09 March, 2017

The food industry is still at an early stage in addressing the challenges of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Driven by concerns over the human health impact of increasing AMR, it is likely that the industry will ultimately be asked to eliminate the use of all antibiotics by animals that are associated with increasing AMR of human treatments. This challenge should not be underestimated in light of the historic usage of antibiotics as a preventative measure to increase farming yields rather than a treatment for infection.

Surveillance programmes

To date, surveillance programmes on usage represent the bulk of activity in assessing AMR, with limited research into antibiotic alternatives. The food industry appears to be in a state of waiting; the major hurdle being the alignment of national and international bodies to create a regulatory environment that drives change.2 The greatest impact is likely to be in the meat and dairy sectors, where the use of antibiotics is most prevalent. The UK poultry sector is recognised as taking a more proactive approach, with the Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme of the British Poultry Council leading to a reduction in antibiotic use of 44% since its introduction in 2012.3

As part of our membership services, Leatherhead Food Research is continuing to review the challenges of AMR in the food chain, the role of national and international bodies to regulate and control the spread of AMR, and to understand the impact on the food industry going forward.

Join us at Meatup

Leatherhead’s Peter Wareing, Food Safety & Manufacturing Consultant, will be speaking on antimicrobial resistance at Meatup (24-25 May, Milton Keynes, UK), looking at the ways in which it could affect the food industry in the future.


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  1. Poppy G (2016) Antimicrobial resistance in the food supply chain. Chief Scientific Adviser’s Science Report, Issue 4, Food Standards Agency. Accessed:
  2. Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (2016). Accessed:
  3. Griffiths R (2016) British Poultry Sector reduces antibiotic use by 44%. British Poultry Council. Accessed:


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