Review of antimicrobial resistance surveillance programmes in livestock and meat in EU with focus on humans

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2018 Jun;24(6):577-590. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2017.09.013. Epub 2017 Sep 29.


Objectives: In this review, we describe surveillance programmes reporting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and resistance genes in bacterial isolates from livestock and meat and compare them with those relevant for human health.

Methods: Publications on AMR in European countries were assessed. PubMed was reviewed and AMR monitoring programmes were identified from reports retrieved by Internet searches and by contacting national authorities in EU/European Economic Area (EEA) member states.

Results: Three types of systems were identified: EU programmes, industry-funded supranational programmes and national surveillance systems. The mandatory EU-financed programme has led to some harmonization in national monitoring and provides relevant information on AMR and extended-spectrum β-lactamase/AmpC- and carbapenemase-producing bacteria. At the national level, AMR surveillance systems in livestock apply heterogeneous sampling, testing and reporting modalities, resulting in results that cannot be compared. Most reports are not publicly available or are written in a local language. The industry-funded monitoring systems undertaken by the Centre Européen d'Etudes pour la Santé Animale (CEESA) examines AMR in bacteria in food-producing animals.

Conclusions: Characterization of AMR genes in livestock is applied heterogeneously among countries. Most antibiotics of human interest are included in animal surveillance, although results are difficult to compare as a result of lack of representativeness of animal samples. We suggest that EU/EEA countries provide better uniform AMR monitoring and reporting in livestock and link them better to surveillance systems in humans. Reducing the delay between data collection and publication is also important to allow prompt identification of new resistance patterns.

Keywords: Antimicrobial resistance; Antimicrobial resistance surveillance; Campylobacter; Escherichia coli; Livestock; MRSA; Meat; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Salmonella; Veterinary surveillance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Food Microbiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Livestock / microbiology*
  • Meat / microbiology*
  • Population Surveillance


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins