The Food Safety Authority is trying to establish whether drugs used to control disease in livestock are contributing to antibiotic resistance in the human food chain.
Critics of antibiotic use in livestock such as poultry, have raised concerns about the possible link with resistance in humans.
The FSA says antimicrobial resistant bacteria, that do not respond to antibiotics, can cause illness and death.
But the agency says there is little information about the levels of those resistant bacteria in food or in animals.
To address that gap, it's started a survey of antimicrobial resistance in the food chain, focusing on some animals processed for human consumption.
Public health advisor, Dr Donald Campbell, says the results of the year-long survey will help the FSA decide whether it needs to set up an on-going monitoring programme and take other action to lower the risk.
He says the Minsitry of Health is also investigating antimicrobial resistance associated with the medical use of antibiotic drugs.