Monitoring for AMR resistance in food animals

11 June 2024

New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) has started an ongoing surveillance programme for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria isolated from animals that pose a risk to human or animal health. This is in accordance with World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) recommendations. Surveillance and monitoring of antimicrobial resistance is important for:

  1. Assessing and determining the trends and sources of AMR in bacteria and detecting new antimicrobial mechanisms.
  2. Providing data for conducting risk analyses for animal and human health.
  3. Providing a basis for policy recommendations for animal and human health.
  4. Providing information for evaluating antimicrobial prescribing practices and prudent use recommendations.
  5. Assessing and determining the effects of actions to combat AMR.

The NZFS AMR surveillance and monitoring programme tracks the levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in New Zealand animals. Bacteria collected from poultry, pigs, calves, and dairy cattle sent to meat-processing plants are being tested for antibiotic resistance. The surveillance programme will target one species each year on a rotating basis. One-off surveys from lower-risk species, such as sheep, are also being done.

NZFS is also tracking antibiotic-resistant bacteria from live animal samples sent to veterinary diagnostic laboratories. This surveillance covers both production and companion animals. Soon, NZFS will start publishing results from the programme on the AMR webpage.

The surveillance programme builds on the results from previous NZFS AMR surveys.

The most recent survey, which took place between 2018-2022, has been published in the Journal of Food Protection. It was carried out by The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) and was codesigned and funded by NZFS. The survey found that AMR in food animals in New Zealand poses a limited public health risk due to low levels of resistance to critically important antibiotics used in humans.

Read the full study here: Antimicrobial Resistance in Selected Bacteria from Food Animals in New Zealand 2018–2022 – Science Direct 

For more information and resources about AMR, visit the Ministry for Primary Industries AMR webpage: