World Health Organization Ranking of Antimicrobials According to Their Importance in Human Medicine: A Critical Step for Developing Risk Management Strategies for the Use of Antimicrobials in Food Production Animals

Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Jul 1;49(1):132-41. doi: 10.1086/599374.


The use of antimicrobials in food animals creates an important source of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans through the food supply. Improved management of the use of antimicrobials in food animals, particularly reducing the usage of those that are "critically important" for human medicine, is an important step toward preserving the benefits of antimicrobials for people. The World Health Organization has developed and applied criteria to rank antimicrobials according to their relative importance in human medicine. Clinicians, regulatory agencies, policy makers, and other stakeholders can use this ranking when developing risk management strategies for the use of antimicrobials in food production animals. The ranking allows stakeholders to focus risk management efforts on drugs used in food animals that are the most important to human medicine and, thus, need to be addressed most urgently, such as fluoroquinolones, macrolides, and third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Food Industry*
  • Humans
  • Risk Management*
  • World Health Organization*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents