Research – Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in E. coli and Campylobacter from retail turkey meat and E. coli from retail lamb in 2020/21-FS102109



This report presents results of the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in specific bacteria, i.e., Campylobacter and Escherichia coli (E.coli)from lamb and turkey meats on retail sale in the UK between October 2020 and February 2021.
The aim was to test by culture approximately 200 samples each of lamb and turkey meat for E.coli, and also to test the turkey samples for Campylobacter. The FSA requested testing of lamb and turkey meat as the majority of AMR surveys on UK retail meats have focused on beef, chicken and pork.
As such there is an evidence gap for AMR in lamb and turkey meat. E. coli is a normal inhabitant of the mammalian and avian gut and most isolates do not cause observable clinical disease in healthy animals and humans. Therefore, E.coli isolates can be useful “indicators” of AMR in gut bacteria. Campylobacter is frequently present in the gut of healthy poultry, and thermophilic species (Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli) typically cause food poisoning in humans.
The monitoring of lamb and turkey meat for AMR is not mandatory as part of the European Directive 2003/99/EC, but the methodology used in this survey was broadly based on the current EU methodologies for the testing of retail beef, chicken and pork. These methodologies involve culture of E. coli on selective agar media containing the antimicrobial drug cefotaxime. Growth of E. coli on such plates indicate resistance to third generation cephalosporin antimicrobial drugs, including extended-spectrum beta lactamase (ESBL) and Amp C type resistance. Such isolates should be further tested for susceptibility to a panel of antimicrobials by determining minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values using a broth dilution method based on EN ISO 20776-1:2006.As recommended by the EU, additional selective cultures were performed on samples to isolate any E.coli resistant to carbapenem antimicrobials. Carbapenems are termed ‘last resort’ drugs, used to treat severe infections when other treatment options are ineffective because of multiple resistances in the target Gram negative bacteria.

6At the request of the FSA (non-harmonised testing outside the remit of Decision 2013/652/EU) further screening was performed for E.coli strains resistant to colistin (another ‘last resort’ human antimicrobial drug) and those specifically producing ESBL resistance enzymes. Colistin-resistant strains may harbour mcr resistance genes, which are located on plasmids that can transfer between bacteria.

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