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Antimicrobial resistance and food safety

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​(Last updated: February 2023)

​Practicing good food safety can reduce the risk of foodborne illness and help limit the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Microorganisms, including bacteria, are everywhere. They can spread through the interactions and movement of people, animals, food and the environment. Some bacteria are good, some are harmful, and some are resistant to antibiotics (which are antimicrobials). Everyone can play a role in slowing the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. 

The Australian food supply is one of the safest in the world, but people can still get sick from eating contaminated foods. Foodborne illness can be caused by bacteria and in some cases these bacteria can also be antimicrobial resistant. This means the steps we take to keep food safe and reduce the chance of foodborne illness, can also help reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). 

For most people, foodborne illness is mild and they don’t need to be treated with antibiotics. But people with severe symptoms or more vulnerable groups like the young, old and people with weakened immune systems may need antimicrobial treatment. In these cases, foodborne illness can be harder to treat if the bacteria are resistant to commonly used medicines (just like other infections with AMR bacteria). 

Food safety for food businesses - What you can do 

Food safety for ​consumers - What you can do 

Check out our Food Safety Basics page to see how you can reduce your chances of foodborne illness and at the same time help to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. 

You can watch a video about what AMR and find out what the Australian Government is doing and more about AMR. ​

You can also learn more about AMR from the World Health Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health​


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