Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2021 Apr 1. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2020.2887. Online ahead of print.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a recognized global public health concern. Although the link between antimicrobial usage in food animals and AMR in humans is established, the detailed interactions are unclear. Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) in livestock was first implemented in Europe with Sweden as the pioneer in 1986. Despite this head start, AMR is still an ongoing challenge for Europe. The European Union (EU) is an established agriculture producer, the second largest pork producer globally, and one of the largest markets for organic food. China is the global leader in both production and consumption of pork. China's rise in prosperity has led to an increase in its pork demand. Chinese producers commonly use antimicrobials during production for disease treatment and prevention to meet this increased demand. China's rising prosperity together with recent publicized food safety scandals, disease outbreaks in domestic livestock products, and increased AMR awareness have resulted in an increased willingness to pay and demand for organic food by Chinese consumers. Responding to the growing concerns of AMR by consumers and the World Health Organization (WHO), the Chinese government introduced a national pilot program in 2016 to reduce unnecessary antimicrobial use. Compared with China, the EU is a different entity as it is a political union comprising diverse countries and although it may have more experience in AMS, both entities face similar issues with AMR and increasing demand for organic food. Increased interest in organic food has arisen due to concerns about AMR, food safety, outbreaks of bacterial food contamination, and animal welfare. This article aims to compare the different AMS strategies employed by each entity, China and the EU, and how the increased demand for organic produce globally also influences the effort to reduce antimicrobial use in these entities' pork industries.