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NARMS should add seafood to its drug resistance monitoring program, SSA says

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The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) should be expanded to include fish and other seafood to fill a major gap in the surveillance system, said the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) on Nov. 21.

NARMS, a highly regarded monitoring system, coordinates with several agencies to track antimicrobial resistance among foodborne bacteria from humans, retail meats, and animals, namely chicken, turkey, beef and pork.

But a group that represents shrimp fishermen and processors in southern U.S. states said the focus should be expanded to seafood products after research shows resistant Salmonella in imported shrimp.

Others have expressed interest in expanding the focus of the 20-year program, including the FDA Science Board, which suggested in a June 2017 report that there’s interest in adding fish, seafood, lamb and veal to the program. Aquaculture is viewed as one of the fastest growing food sectors and the majority are based in Asia.

SSA pointed to studies that have found Salmonella enterica strain of Weltevreden, common in Asia, in samples that showed resistance to multiples antibiotics.  

“We know that shrimp containing S. Weltevreden that shows antimicrobial resistance is being imported into the United States,” said John Williams, executive director of SSA, in a letter commenting on the Oct. 24-25 NARMS public meeting.

“In response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Southern Shrimp Alliance, the FDA released a summary of the results of the agency’s sampling of shrimp products for chemotherapeutics between fiscal years (FY) 2001 and 2016. The information released to us confirms that, in addition to screening for chemotherapeutics, the FDA has tested some of these samples for Salmonella and confirmed the presence of S. Weltevreden in multiple import entry lines of shrimp.”

Williams said the Salmonella was found to be resistant or display only immediate susceptibility to antimicrobial agents, and that more than 300 entries of Salmonella enterica with antimicrobial resistant genotypes have been identified on shrimp.

“Nevertheless, NARMS’s Integrated Reports and online display tools do not permit any analysis of samples sourced from seafood products. As currently constituted, NARMS provides no ability for stakeholders to track or identify any monitoring that might be done with regard to seafood products,” Williams said.

He called the lack of attention to seafood a “substantial gap in NARMS’s monitoring program,” and suggested the program monitor for fish and seafood, such as tilapia, salmon, and shrimp.

SSA also encouraged NARMS to undertake a hazard characterization or risk profile to identify the potential health risk from seafood products.

 

 

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