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Chapter 2 : Antimicrobial Resistance
Category: Applied and Industrial Microbiology; Food Microbiology
Antibiotics are used in food production to treat infected animals, prevent infection of potentially exposed animals, and promote growth. Many argue that the widespread use of antibiotics at subtherapeutic levels exacerbates the selective pressure that enriches microbial populations for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and suggest that growth promotion and disease prevention could be achieved through nonantibiotic alternatives and novel management practices. Many food antimicrobials, such as nisin, lysozyme, lactoferrin, essential oils, and organic acids, are derived from natural sources, but even if their source is microbial, they are not classified as antibiotics. Antimicrobial resistance is useful to distinguish among antibiotic resistance, food antimicrobial resistance, and resistance to sanitizers and disinfectants. Human fecal contamination, either on the farm or during food preparation, is the root cause of shigellosis. The infection is classified as a foodborne illness because food is often the vehicle for Shigella. An understanding of mechanisms that result in resistance and adaptation can enable food microbiologists to develop effective intervention strategies to improve the overall safety of foods. A mechanistic understanding may also identify opportunities of collateral sensitivity, where the cellular changes resulting in resistance leave the cell more vulnerable to other types of antimicrobial agents. The main preventive measure food microbiologists can take to counter antibiotic-resistant organisms is to continue to develop and implement effective interventions to improve the overall safety of foods.
Flow of antibiotic-resistant and susceptible microorganisms from farm to fork.
Examples of resistance mechanisms