AMR Wageningen Food Safety Research

Antimicrobial Resistance Research

Antibiotics are essential medicines for fighting bacterial infection. They kill the bacteria or slow their growth, allowing the immune system to clear up the infection. But antibiotics may lose their effectiveness if bacteria are no longer susceptible to them: they have evolved resistance. Copious use of antibiotics stimulates the occurrence and growth of (multi) resistant bacteria. Infection by resistant bacteria is naturally more difficult to treat. So, it is very important that we undertake global action to fight antimicrobial resistance, better known by its abbreviation AMR.

Public health, animal health and food safety

The One Health approach forms a guideline in the sustainable and shared approach against antimicrobial resistance. In this approach, experts in the field of public health, animal health and food safety work together in an interdisciplinary way.

Wageningen Food Safety Research conducts research into food and environmental sources for the presence of resistance to antibiotics. Our microbiologists have at their disposal specific accredited methods for demonstrating the presence of the MRSA bacterium, ESBL and carbapenem-resistant bacteria.

The AMR information on food is shared with the NVWA and EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority. We also work closely with Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR), which conducts research into AMR in animals.

Our microbiologists have at their disposal specific accredited methods for demonstrating the presence of the MRSA bacterium, ESBL and carbapenem-resistant bacteria.

Research on antibiotic resistance in food and environmental sources

Below you will find out more about our varied work and how we make a contribution through them to food safety:

Phenotype and genotype profiling

In order to test for resistance to antibiotics, researchers investigate the genotype and the phenotype of a bacterium. Genotype has to do with genes: does the bacterium have a resistant property in its DNA? With the phenotype, observable characteristics are what is at issue. In this case: are we able to measure whether the bacterium is resistant? Here, the degree of resistance can be measured as well - the MIC value. This is the concentration of the antibiotic at which a bacterium no longer grows.

Determination of antibiotic resistance in bacteria
Determination of antibiotic resistance in bacteria

Matrices and bacteria investigated

Every year, a selection of strains of Salmonella from meat, Campylobacter from poultry and E. coli from different food products are isolated. These are subsequently analysed for their susceptibility to different antibiotics (MIC determination). In addition, specific AMR methods are used on different food products, such as meat products, fish and shellfish and fresh vegetables.


In its research into resistance to antibiotics, WFSR works closely with different institutes at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and with other bodies. These links with other parties are extremely important. They provide access to knowledge from other disciplines, such as veterinary medicine and human health (One Health).

Publication of data

The data on antimicrobial resistance in food are submitted to the NVWA annually. These data are also incorporated in reports prepared by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and are part of the joint MARAN report by WBVR, WFSR, the NVWA and the RIVM, coordinated by WBVR. This report contains the data from monitoring antimicrobial resistance and the usage of antibiotics in animals in the Netherlands.

Associated Disciplines

Research into resistance to antibiotics is linked to the genomics and bacteriology research areas. Bacterial isolates are subject to AMR research. The DNA is mapped on the using genomics techniques. More on this may be found on the page Genomics.

Read more about our microbiology expertises virology, bacteriology and genomics.