EFSA and ECDC publish first joint report on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria affecting humans, animals and food

  Published: 21.09.11 Updated: 21.09.2011 10:17:57
The European Food Safety Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control analysed the information submitted by 25 European Union Member States and two non-Member States, Norway and Switzerland, on antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella and Campylobacter isolates from humans, food and animals, and in non-disease causing Escherichia coli and enterococci isolates from animals and food in 2009.

The report, based on 2009 data, shows that a high proportion of Campylobacter in humans is resistant to a critically important antibiotic for the treatment of human diseases: ciprofloxacin, which belongs to the fluoroquinolones group. In animals, a high or moderate proportion of Salmonella (in chickens), Campylobacter and non-disease-causing E. coli was also found to be resistant to this antibiotic.

A low proportion of Salmonella in humans and of Salmonella and non-disease-causing E. coli in animals was found to be resistant to third generation cephalosporins, a type of antibiotic, considered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be critically important in human medicine.

Non-disease-causing E. coli and Enterococci are used to indicate the level of antimicrobial resistance in normal bacterial flora in the guts of healthy animals. EFSA has been analysing the resistance to antimicrobials in zoonotic bacteria found in animals and food since 2004.

Key findings of the report

  • Campylobacter: High levels of resistance were recorded for the antimicrobial ciprofloxacin (47%) as well as for resistance to ampicillin (43%) and nalidixic acid (40%). Resistance to another important antimicrobial – erythromycin - was low (3.1%).
  • Salmonella: The report shows that resistance to common antimicrobials like ampicillin, tetracycline and sulphonamide was moderate, with around 20% of the tested bacteria considered resistant. Resistance to clinically important antimicrobials - third-generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones - was below 10%.
  • E. coli: The report did not include data on resistance to antimicrobials in E. coli in humans.


  • Campylobacter also showed high levels of resistance to ciprofloxacin. This was in particular the case for chickens (46% in Campylobacter jejuni and 78% in the Campylobacter coli) and also pigs (50% in Campylobacter coli).
  • Salmonella: High levels of resistance were recorded for ampicillin, tetracycline and sulphonamide in pigs and pig meat (47-60%), cattle (37-40%) and chicken meat (27-33%). A moderate level of resistance to ciprofloxacin was recorded in chickens and chicken meat (around 20%).
  • Non-disease causing E. coli showed high levels of resistance to tetracycline, ampicillin and sulphonamide in pigs and chicken; and E. coli was found to be resistant to ciprofloxacin in chicken (47%) and also in pigs (12%). The occurrence of third-generation cephalosporin resistance was still low.

European Union summary report on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from animals and food in the European Union in 2009 access here.