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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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NARMS 2004 Annual Report Notes Enhanced Meat Sampling

FDA Veterinarian Newsletter 2006 Volume XVII, No IV

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has posted the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System – Enteric Bacteria (NARMS) Retail Meat Annual Report for 2004 on its Web site at: http://www.fda.gov/cvm/NARMSReport2004.htm. The primary purpose of the NARMS retail meat surveillance program is to monitor the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance among foodborne pathogenic and commensal organisms, in particular, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus and E. coli. The project includes both active surveillance for foodborne diseases and related epidemiologic studies designed to help public health officials better understand foodborne diseases in the United States.

The results generated by the NARMS retail meat program establish a reference point for analyzing trends of antimicrobial resistance among these foodborne bacteria.

Food animal products destined for human consumption are known to harbor enteric bacteria, including zoonotic foodborne pathogens. Antimicrobial resistance among these organisms may be associated with the use of antimicrobial agents in food animals. Retail meats represent a point of exposure close to the consumer and, when combined with data from slaughter plants and on-farm studies, provide insight into the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in foodborne pathogens originating from food animals. To gain a better understanding of antimicrobial resistance among enteric bacteria in the food supply, the NARMS monitors antimicrobial susceptibility/resistance phenotypes in bacteria isolated from retail meats.

Retail meats are collected at the 10 FoodNet sites and cultured for the presence of the selected organisms. Bacterial isolates are sent to FDA/CVM for confirmation of species, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, and genetic analysis. A total of 4,699 meat samples were collected in 2004 as part of the NARMS retail meat surveillance program, which represents an increase of 1,166 samples over the total collected in the previous year. The increase in the number of samples collected in 2004 was due to the addition of FoodNet laboratories in Colorado and New Mexico, increasing the number of test sites from 8 to 10; the other 8 States are California, Connecticut, Georgia, New York, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, and Tennessee. FoodNet is the principal foodborne disease component of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Emerging Infections Program (EIP) (http://www.cdc.gov/foodnet/) and is a collaborative project of CDC, the 10 EIP sites, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and FDA.

A notable change in 2004 was the adoption by FDA/CVM of a broth microdilution antimicrobial susceptibility testing method for Campylobacter that also increased the number of agents tested to nine from five. The nine antimicrobials tested in 2004 were: azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, erythromycin, florfenicol, gentamicin, nalidixic acid, telithromycin, and tetracycline; ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, and gentamicin were also tested in 2003. Meropenem and doxycycline were dropped from the list of Campylobacter agents tested.