FSIS Antimicrobial Resistance Data Sharing
Uday Dessai and Gamola Fortenberry, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service
The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) is a national public health surveillance system through which the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) partners with state and local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to track changes in the antimicrobial susceptibility of select foodborne bacteria found in ill people (CDC), retail meats (FDA) and food animals (FSIS). The food animal sampling at FSIS focuses on testing food products and intestinal (cecal) contents. While NARMS annually publishes findings, the publications tend to have a two- to three-year lag due to the complexity of the information summarized as well as the time needed for interagency reviews. The latest report was the 2019 Integrated Report Summary, released in April 2022.
To offset the delays in integrated report publication, NARMS partners have implemented a continuous AMR data-sharing process. The most current AMR information is publicly available on each agency’s website. Quarterly, FSIS posts AMR information on the Quarterly Sampling Reports on Antimicrobial Resistance page and the Laboratory Sampling Data page. The data available here includes aggregate AMR findings for both FSIS-regulated products and cecal (intestinal contents) samples and isolate level AMR findings for FSIS-regulated product samples.
This national surveillance helps the NARMS public health partners identify new types and patterns of resistance and changes over time, and aids in understanding the impact of interventions designed to limit the spread of resistance. FSIS and CDC use NARMS information on a case-by-case basis to investigate foodborne illnesses and outbreaks. FDA routinely uses NARMS data in its regulatory review and approval of new animal antimicrobial drugs, and to develop and update policies on the judicious use of antimicrobials in animals. NARMS findings help public health partners continually assess the nature and magnitude of bacterial antimicrobial resistance at different points along the farm-to-fork continuum.