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High levels of antibiotics found in poultry

New Delhi, July 30, 2014, DHNS: 3:16 IST
Fresh evidence on rampant misuse of antibiotics in the poultry industry surfaced on Wednesday as Delhi-based NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found high levels of six antibiotics in 40 per cent of raw chicken samples they analysed. Reuters file photo for representational purpose only
Fresh evidence on rampant misuse of antibiotics in the poultry industry surfaced on Wednesday as Delhi-based NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found high levels of six antibiotics in 40 per cent of raw chicken samples they analysed.

The Rs 50,000 crore poultry industry favours large scale, unregulated use of antibiotic as growth promoter, going against the government-recommended regulatory measures.

Several expert panels set up by the World Health Organisation and other agencies in the past had demonstrated adverse human health consequences due to non-human usage of antimicrobial as organisms become resistant to antibiotics. India's 2011 policy for containment of antimicrobial resistance cited several examples of how indiscriminate use of antibiotics can led to serious health issues.

Misuse of the antibiotic avoparcin as a growth promoter in food animals in Europe resulted in the development and amplification of vancomycin-resistant enterococci, which is a cause of concern as vancomycin is used as a last-line antibiotic for some hospital-acquired infections.

To check the extent of misuse, CSE tested 70 chicken samples picked up from Delhi and its satellites townships of Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Faridabad. As much as 40 per cent of the samples were found to contain antibiotic residue.

Several studies in the last decade documented misuse of antibiotics in poultry and animal farming and associated health risks.

CSE found 23 per cent samples contain only one antibiotic, while 17 per cent samples have more than one. The study has not been published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

The antibiotics screened are oxytetracycline, chlorotetracycline, doxycycline, enrofloxacin, ciprofloxacin and neomycin. None of the samples contain neomycin. The poultry industry, claims CSE's deputy director-general Chandra Bhusan, uses antibiotics as growth promoter to cut down on feed cost and increase the profit margin.

This goes against a 2007 norm prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which stipulates antibiotics should not be used as growth promoters.

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