UK project gets funding to monitor foodborne pathogens and AMRAugust 3, 2021
A project in the United Kingdom has received funding for the surveillance of foodborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistance.
Pathogen Surveillance in Agriculture, Food and the Environment (PATH-SAFE) involves the Food Standards Agency (FSA); Food Standards Scotland (FSS); Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra); Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC); Public Health England (PHE); and the Environment Agency.
The aim is to establish the infrastructure and sampling frameworks needed to monitor the source and spread of foodborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes between the environment, animals, food and people.
Professor Robin May, chief scientific adviser for the FSA, said: “This project is designed to help safeguard UK food, agriculture and consumers by using cutting edge technology to understand how pathogens and AMR spread. Tracking the source of these issues will ultimately help us to develop better control strategies to reduce illness and deaths.”
May mentioned the project while presenting an annual update to the FSA Board earlier this year.
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.”
Professor David Gally, FSS chief scientific adviser, said: “The funding will allow the UK to build on its expertise in whole genome sequencing of infectious diseases to improve our knowledge of the origins and threats posed by pathogens and AMR in our environments and the food chain, and help us to target control strategies for protecting public health.”
Government funding of almost £20 million ($26.7 million) will support the three-year project to develop a pilot national surveillance network, using DNA-sequencing technology and environmental sampling to improve the detection and tracking of foodborne and antimicrobial resistant pathogens through the agricultural food system from farm to fork.
It will include a new database to allow the analysis, storage and sharing of pathogen sequence and source data collected from locations across the UK by government and public organizations.
Neil Woodford, deputy director, National Infection Service, Public Health England, said: “Our ongoing and established surveillance work of antibiotic resistance in samples from patients with gastrointestinal infections will form an important part of this joint initiative and help ensure that information is shared across the system.”
Consumer survey results
Meanwhile, the FSA has published findings from a survey measuring self-reported knowledge, attitudes and behaviors on issues including food safety amongst adults in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It was conducted between November 2020 and January 2021 with 5,900 adults.
Most respondents had no…