Finland sees decline during ESBL monitoring

Food chain monitoring in Finland has found a low level of an indicator of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in meat and animals, according to recent review of data.

Extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL) and AmpC-producing E. coli bacteria were reported for broilers, chicken meat, and beef in 2020.

Incidence of ESBL and AmpC-producing bacteria has been lower in Finland than the average level in European countries since screening of retail food products began in 2015.

E. coli are indicator bacteria for antibiotic resistance levels in Gram-negative bacteria and used for AMR surveillance in humans and food-producing animals. ESBL and AmpC-producing E. coli are of concern because these enzymes show resistance to a range of antibiotics, limiting treatment options.

Declining trend
Prevalence in broilers for slaughter and domestic broiler meat has decreased significantly in the country between 2016 and 2020.

They were present in slaughterhouse broilers in 2016 and 2018 at a rate of 13 to 14 percent but in 2020 they were detected in less than 0.5 percent of the examined samples.

In domestic chicken meat for retail sale, these bacteria were found in 22 percent of samples in 2016, 15 percent in 2018 but only 0.5 percent in 2020.

Since 2017, ESBL and AmpC-producing bacteria have not been detected in flocks coming to Finland for broiler production from abroad.

In 2020, ESBL or AmpC-producing E. coli was detected in 3 percent of cattle for slaughter.

In 2021, AMR monitoring covers fattening pigs, bovine animals under one year of age, pig meat and bovine meat. For 2022, is scheduled to involve laying hens, broilers, fattening turkeys and fresh meat from broilers and turkeys.

Open data on outbreaks
The Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto) has also launched a portal with information about foodborne outbreaks.

In 2020, 36 food and waterborne outbreaks were reported in Finland and 594 people became ill compared to 54 outbreaks and 956 illnesses in 2019. The most common cause of food poisoning this past year was norovirus.

Data can be ordered by different parameters such as the agent responsible for the food poisoning or the food vehicle. It provides statistics on epidemics from 2017 onward but is only available in Finnish.

Data are based on a national register of food and waterborne epidemics maintained by the food agency. Information is collected on local, regional and national incidents based on reports from authorities.

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