• University of Nottingham

Antimicrobial Resistance in the Food Chain

Explore how antibiotic use in farming contributes towards resistant bacteria in our food chain. What can we do about this issue?

Antimicrobial Resistance in the Food Chain
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $69Find out more

How do antibiotic-resistant bacteria develop and find their way into our food?

Learn what antibiotics are, how they work, and how bacteria become resistant to their effects. Hear how antibiotics are used from the perspective of healthcare and veterinary professionals. Explore how antibiotics are used in farming: How can antibiotic-resistant bacteria find their way onto our food? What impact does the environment and global trade have on the spread of this bacteria? Finally, consider what might be done to tackle antibiotic resistance: How effective are current policies? Can we find new types of antibiotics or alternatives to antibiotics? What can we do internationally?

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Skip to 0 minutes and 23 seconds Antimicrobial resistance has become a global hot topic over the last few years with the recent report by Lord Jim O’Neill suggesting that this could throw medicine back into the Dark Ages with up to 10 million deaths by the year 2050. This is the equivalent of one death every three seconds. Medical and veterinary professionals have been aware of this problem for 10 years. It is only recently that the public and politicians have become aware of this as a growing threat to international public and animal health and national economies. But what is antimicrobial resistance, or AMR as it’s sometimes called? What are antibiotics or antimicrobials? And what is antibiotic resistance? And how does it develop?

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds Antibiotics are not only used to treat human infections, they’re also used to treat livestock diseases. And in some countries, they’re used to stimulate the growth of livestock. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be carried in the intestines of livestock and contaminate carcasses during the slaughter process and ultimately end up in the meat on our plates. So we can’t divorce ourselves from the consequences of using antibiotics in our food production.

Skip to 1 minute and 35 seconds What are national governments and international organisations doing about this? Can more be done? Particularly in agriculture. Can we find new antibiotics? And are there any alternatives available?

Skip to 1 minute and 48 seconds We live in a shrinking economic world. How do the farm practices of far-flung countries affect what happens to us here? Perhaps we can live in a world without antibiotics. But what would such a world look like? This three week course offers explanations for some of these issues. And we talk to key players in antimicrobial research, both in human and veterinary medicine, including representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, the veterinary profession, DEFRA (UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. There will be articles, infographics, and you can take part in tests to test your knowledge. And also in discussion forums to explore new solutions.

Skip to 2 minutes and 28 seconds So join us on this new course on Antimicrobial Resistance in the Food Chain. Find out more.

What topics will you cover?

  • Antimicrobial agents: What they are, how they work, and how resistance develops and transfers between bacteria.

  • Introduction to the basis of controls currently applied to antimicrobial usage.

  • Usage of antimicrobials in the animal food chain – as therapeutic agents, prophylactics, metaphylactics and growth promoters.

  • Increasing frequency of antimicrobial resistance genes in the food chain - evidence of the causal effect of antibiotic use in animal production on resistance development.

  • The epidemiological links between use in animals and public health.

  • The environmental impact of antibiotic use in livestock.

  • Current UK, EU and global policy and legislation.

  • Proposed future legislation and policy actions to tackle AMR.

  • Impact on global trade and supply chain.

  • Good practice in the industry, use of alternative approaches and how this can stop the spread of AMR.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the connection between antibiotic use and the development of antibiotic resistance.
  • Describe the mechanisms and dynamics of transfer of resistant bacteria within and along the food chain, as well as describe the environmental impact of the use of antimicrobials.
  • Appraise current legislation and policy in relation to controlling usage of antimicrobials in the food chain.
  • Identify alternative approaches to infection control not involving antibiotics.

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone with an interest in antibiotics, food and farming, and how antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will affect our lives in the future. We aim to give you up-to-date information on the key issues in this topic, along with the opinions of leading experts from the world of industry, academia, medicine/veterinary medicine and government.

For those keen to learn more about this area, we also offer a more in-depth online course on Poultry Health, in which we explore how disease can be controlled in the poultry industry; a sector that is particularly susceptible to the challenges of antimicrobial resistance.

What do people say about this course?

I enjoyed the course immensely and it has increased my knowledge regarding AMR 100%. I would thank all that have put the course together and so actively been involved. Thanks to the participants, we have had some great and thought-provoking discussions.

Simon Rogers

Who will you learn with?

Robert is a Lecturer in Microbiology at the University of Nottingham. He has spent over 17 years researching pathogenic bacteria and how biological agents (phages) can be used to control them.

Professor Paul Barrow is Sub-Dean for Research and Business at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham.

Who developed the course?

The University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham is committed to providing a truly international education, inspiring students with world-leading research and benefitting communities all around the world.

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