One of the topics of concern raised during the 2017 Scientific Meeting of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (“NARMS”) was the failure of the system to address antibiotic use in aquaculture and to monitor antimicrobial resistant pathogens present on seafood products sold in the United States. As currently organized, NARMS allows the public to access data regarding incidents of detection of antimicrobial resistant pathogens for seven different bacterium (including lmonella, e. coli, and campylobacter) related to cattle, swine, chicken, and turkey products. No seafood products are currently covered by the monitoring system.
A Science Board review of NARMS, completed in June, observed that there was “interest in expanding monitoring to fish and other seafood, such as tilapia, salmon and shrimp . . . .” The Science Board recommended sampling seafood along with other meat products.
In response to a request for comments from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding NARMS, the Southern Shrimp Alliance expressed its support for the Science Board’s recommendation regarding the expansion of the program to include seafood.
The Southern Shrimp Alliance observed that prior scientific sessions regarding NARMS had highlighted that certain serotypes of salmonella resulting in human illness had been tied to seafood products imported from Asia. In particular, the Weltevreden serotype of Salmonella enterica has been repeatedly associated with aquatic food production systems in that area of the world. Further, the FDA’s own sampling program has previously confirmed the presence of the Weltevreden serotype of Salmonella enterica that displayed resistance or only intermediate susceptibility to antimicrobial agents on shrimp imports.
In separate comments to the FDA, the coalition group “Keep Antibiotics Working” expressed its support for the expansion of the monitoring program to “incorporate sampling of imported foods, including imported animal feed, feed ingredients and seafood, into NARMS.” Keep Antibiotics Working is composed of the Center for Food Safety; John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future; the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, the George Washington University; the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention; Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT); the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG); The Humane Society of the United States; the Humane Society Legislative Fund; and Natural Resources Defense Council.
Keep Antibiotics Working observed that “[t]here is ample evidence that there are different antibiotic resistance risks between countries with some countries having much higher level of clinically important resistance in bacteria from meats and seafoods.” Accordingly, the coalition “recommend[s] sampling seafood” while emphasizing “examining imported food for seafood [as] this means most seafood marketed in the U.S. since most is imported.”