Bacterial Flora & Antimicrobial Resistance In Imported Farmed Seafood

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to farmed fish ventures has long been disease control; not just how to stop diseases out-breaks within the farms themselves, but how to do so without over-medicating and thus encouraging the growth of antibacterial resistant strains. Using too high a quantity of antimicrobials can lead to presence of antimicrobial resistance bacteria in stomachs of humans and animals.

On land, livestock are treated through use of antibiotics in their feed, which prevent and control diseases within the farmed populations. The same happens in fish farms, though less is known about how often they are used or how effective they are.

A new study from the University of Copenhagen associated with the SEAT project has shown that antimicrobial resistance is unlikely to be found naturally occurring in farmed seafood at the point of harvest. This indicates that it is not when the fish are removed from the ponds they are grown in ready to be processed, that they contain drug-resistant bacteria.

Why is this important?

If bacteria are drug-resistant and prevalent in our foodstuffs, it is possible for humans to become infected. It is important to ensure that current aquaculture practices do not encourage the development of antimicrobial resistant bacteria strains so that consumers can be assured that farming methods provide seafood which is safe for humans, and importantly is not resulting in resistant bacterial strains.

This however, does not mean that farmed seafood is never contaminated with virulent strains; handling by humans during processing, as with any food product, can be where bacteria is passed onto a food product. It is these areas of the supply chain where efforts should be concentrated to ensure the greatest degree of hygiene and so minimise bacteria.

The full article: Bacterial Flora and Antimicrobial Resistance in Raw Frozen Cultured Seafood Imported to Denmark, can be viewed here.

To cite the article: Bacterial Flora and Antimicrobial Resistance in Raw Frozen Cultured Seafood Imported to Denmark (2013), Noor Uddin, G. M. Larsen, M. H. Guardabassi, L. & Dalsgaard. Journal of Food Protection76: 490-499.

Photo © Loni Hensler