Antimicrobial Residues in Food from Animal Origin-A Review of the Literature Focusing on Products Collected in Stores and Markets Worldwide

Antibiotics (Basel). 2021 May 6;10(5):534. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics10050534.


The extensive use of antibiotics leads to antibiotic residues in frequently consumed foods. Generally, the main use of antibiotics in animals is to treat and prevent diseases and growth promotion. However, the residues and their breakdown products have several side effects on the human body and, in a broader sense, on the environment. In relation to the human body, the frequency of mutations is increased, the bone marrow is damaged (chloramphenicol), and the reproductive organs of humans are affected. Carcinogenic effects have been found with antibiotics such as sulfamethazine, oxytetracycline, and furazolidone. We summarized data from 73 scientific studies reporting antimicrobial residues in animal products that were freely available for sale. The studies were published in English starting from 1999 till 2021 and identified through the Pubmed search engine. The aims were to find out which antibiotics, legal or illegal, could be found in animal foods worldwide. Which are stable to get into the food chain and exceed the maximum residue limits (MRL) regarding the EU guidelines as a comparison. Reducing antimicrobial residues in food from animal origin and, in addition to this, fighting the tremendous growth and spread of antimicrobial resistance will undoubtedly be one of the most difficult food safety challenges in the coming years.

Keywords: antimicrobial residues; cattle; eggs; livestock; milk; pigs; poultry; seafood.

Publication types

  • Review