Spread of antibiotic resistance along the food-chain is a major food safety concern due to the risk of treatment failure of human foodborne infections. Recent reports suggest that the restrictions on use of antibiotics in organic animal farming promote lower levels of antibiotic resistance in organic animal products as compared to conventional products. This is, however, scarcely documented in the EU, particularly for swine. Thus, the organic pig production is probably characterized by significant lower levels of antibiotic resistance and providing the documentation of this very important quality parameter of organic pigs holds the opportunity of exploiting this essential advantage of organic pork in marketing. Therefore, in SafeOrganic it will be documented whether the organic pigs in different European countries does show lower levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria compared to the conventional pigs. Furthermore, there seems to be a widespread routine of slaughtering conventional and organic animals at the same slaughter lines without special hygiene barriers to avoid cross-contamination. An important part of the project is therefore to investigate to which degree antibiotic resistant bacteria from conventional raised animals is transferred to organic meat during processing. Accordingly, SafeOrganic will assess and suggest management options, which can minimize the contact and hence risk of cross-contamination between the organic and the conventional meat products during slaughter. Information on the antibiotic use at farm level is normally not available, which hampers the authority control of imprudent use of antibiotics. Therefore, SafeOrganic will investigate if bacterial antibiotic resistance patterns and genotypes can be used as markers for the consumption of antibiotics in organic animal production. The results obtained in the project will be communicated to end-users enabling the slaughter industry to reduce spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and organic animal farmers to market pork meat with very low levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria implying an improved food safety quality compared to pork from conventional farming systems.
FP7 ERA-Net project, CORE Organic II (Coordination of European Transnational Research in Organic Food and Farming systems, project no. 249667).