The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has begun work on a new assessment looking at the risk of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria spread during the transport of animals to be used as food.

The assessment, which was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety, will focus on the risk of resistant zoonotic bacteria spread among poultry, pigs, and cattle during transport to slaughterhouses and to other farms.

When antimicrobial resistance occurs in zoonotic bacteria—i.e., bacteria that can be passed from animals to humans—it can also compromise the effective treatment of infectious diseases in humans.

Marta Hugas, EFSA’s chief scientist, said, “Resistance to antimicrobials is an urgent public health threat, and evidence-based advice is critical to developing policy and legislation to meet this challenge. This new mandate—which focuses on the possible implications for human health—illustrates once again the growing convergence between animal and human health and the need for a ‘one health’ approach by assessors and policymakers.”

As well as investigating the factors that can cause the spread of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria through transport, EFSA will also review preventive measures and control options, and identify data needed to support further analysis of the issue. The Authority’s final scientific opinion is expected to be finalized by September 2022.

The request emerged from discussions held over the past year between the European Parliament, the European Commission, and EFSA.