New £19m AMR and pathogen control program to be rolled out in the UK

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/dusanpetkovic
© GettyImages/dusanpetkovic

Related tags Antimicrobial resistance Antibiotics

UK pig sector representatives, NPA, has welcomed a new £19.2m (US$26.7m) cross-government program to improve the detection and tracking of foodborne and antimicrobial resistant pathogens through the agri-food system.

The Pathogen Surveillance in Agriculture, Food and the Environment (PATH-SAFE) project brings together a raft of UK regulatory bodies for UK wide testing of the application of genomic technologies in the surveillance of foodborne pathogens and AMR microbes.

The funds will support a three-year project to develop a pilot national surveillance network. The initiative will use the latest DNA-sequencing technology and environmental sampling to improve the detection and tracking of foodborne and antimicrobial resistant pathogens through the whole agri-food system from farm to fork.

Pathogen sequence and source database

The project will be built around a new database that will permit the analysis, storage and sharing of pathogen sequence and source data, collected from multiple locations across the UK by both government and public organizations.

NPA senior policy adviser Rebecca Veale said the association hopes the program will build on the significant progress already made with regard to the responsible use of antibiotics in the pig sector.

“The project takes a One Health approach, which is important because we should consider any challenge, such as AMR, in a multi-dimensional way. We also hope there will be the opportunity to utilize data in a way that could help improve the health of our national pig herd.”

Professor Robin May, FSA chief scientific adviser, said foodborne disease in the UK is estimated to cause around 2.4 million cases of illness a year, costing society an estimated at over £9bn per year.

“This project is designed to help safeguard UK food, agriculture and consumers by using cutting edge technology to understand how pathogens and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) spread. Tracking the source of these issues will ultimately help us to develop better control strategies to reduce illness and deaths,”​ he said.

Professor Gideon Henderson, Chief Scientific Adviser for Defra said: “UK sales of antibiotics for food-producing animals have halved in the last six years. This vital new project will build on that progress, and ensure antibiotics continue to remain effective for both people and animals.”

Related topics Regulation Swine Europe Antibiotics

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