Critically important antibiotics: criteria and approaches for measuring and reducing their use in food animal agriculture

H. Morgan Scott, Gary Acuff, Gilles Bergeron, Megan W. Bourassa, Jason Gill, David W. Graham, Laura H. Kahn, Paul S. Morley, Matthew Jude Salois, Shabbir Simjee, Randall S. Singer, Tara C. Smith, Carina Storrs, Thomas E. Wittum

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Globally, increasing acquired antimicrobial resistance among pathogenic bacteria presents an urgent challenge to human and animal health. As a result, significant efforts, such as the One Health Initiative, are underway to curtail and optimize the use of critically important antimicrobials for human medicine in all applications, including food animal production. This review discusses the rationale behind multiple and competing “critically important antimicrobial” lists and their contexts as created by international, regional, and national organizations; identifies discrepancies among these lists; and describes issues surrounding risk management recommendations that have been made by regulatory organizations on the use of antibiotics in food animal production. A more harmonized approach to defining criticality in its various contexts (e.g., for human versus animal health, enteric diseases versus other systemic infections, and direct versus indirect selection of resistance) is needed in order to identify shared contextual features, aid in their translation into risk management, and identify the best ways to maintain the health of food animals, all while keeping in mind the wider risks of antimicrobial resistance, environmental impacts, and animal welfare considerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-16
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of New York Academy of Sciences.


  • animal agriculture
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • antimicrobials
  • critically important antimicrobials


Dive into the research topics of 'Critically important antibiotics: criteria and approaches for measuring and reducing their use in food animal agriculture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this