The use of antibiotics has decreased and is now lower in food-producing animals than in humans, the latest report on antimicrobial resistance has found.

The report, compiled by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), compares data on antibiotic consumption and development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Europe for 2016-2018.

The significant fall in antibiotic use in food-producing animals suggests that the measures taken at country level to reduce use are proving to be effective, it found.

“Use of a class of antibiotics called polymyxins, which includes colistin, nearly halved between 2016 and 2018 in food-producing animals.

“This is a positive development, as polymyxins are also used in hospitals to treat patients infected with multidrug-resistant bacteria,” the report said.

These types of antibiotics are used for the prevention and treatment of diseases in animals caused by salmonella and E coli.

The report also identifies links between antimicrobial consumption in animals and AMR in bacteria from food-producing animals, which in turn is associated with AMR in bacteria from humans.


An example of this is Campylobacter bacteria, which are found in food-producing animals, mostly poultry, and cause foodborne infections in humans.

Experts found an association between resistance in these bacteria in animals and resistance in the same bacteria in humans.

The report said AMR is a significant global public health problem that represents a serious economic burden.

It said the results in the report called for “continued efforts to tackle AMR at national, EU and global level across the healthcare sectors”.