Antimicrobial resistance surveillance in Canada: Retail food highlights, 2003-2012

The Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS) is a collaborative, integrated program designed to track antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among enteric bacteria isolated from various livestock commodities along the food-producing continuum (“farm to fork”) and in humans.

raw-chicken-bacteria-537x357Objective: To provide a summary of the prevalence and trends in AMR among select bacteria isolated from raw, fresh chicken, pork, and beef in 2012 at the retail food level and to link these data with other findings from CIPARS.

Methods: Meat samples were collected from randomly selected geographic areas across Canada weighted by population for subsequent isolation of bacteria and interpretation of the associated AMR profiles. Salmonella, Campylobacter and generic Escherichia coli (E. coli) were tested in chicken, and E. coli was tested in beef and pork. Data were analyzed for 2012 and temporal and regional trends were examined between 2003 and 2012 by province/region.

Results: Overall, resistance levels to Salmonella in retail chicken varied widely by region and year. For example,  ceftiofur resistance to Salmonella in retail  chicken was significantly lower in 2012 than in 2004 in Ontario and in Québec; however among all regions sampled,  resistance to Campylobacter in retail chicken was relatively low in 2012 (<16%) with the exception of tetracycline resistance. In 2012, ciprofloxacin resistance to  Campylobacter in chicken declined in British Columbia but significantly increased in Ontario, compared to 2011. In 2012, β-lactam resistance to E. coli in retail beef remained low (≤1%) and was also relatively low comparable to previous years in pork.

Conclusion: In Canada, as is the case worldwide, there is evidence of resistance to medically important antimicrobials among bacteria from retail meats. Resistance among organisms isolated from poultry, beef, and pork at the retail food level is characterized by wide variation over time and across different regions.

Public Health Agency of Canada, CCDR, Volume 40 S-2

B. Avery, E. Parmley, R. Reid-Smith, D. Daignault, R. Finley, R. Irwin