The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has issued a draft notification prohibiting the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in poultry and animal husbandry sectors as they render microbes resistant to life saving drugs.
The food regulator sought to limit antibiotic use in feed and feed supplements and ensure veterinary supervision of overall antibiotic use.
The Authority asked the state governments and union territories to ensure judicious use of antibiotics in animal feed and premix. It also directed them to stop use of hormones as growth promoters in poultry and meat as there are known adverse effects on human and animal life.
The draft notification also asked the industry to stop using feed containing meat or bone meal, blood meal and bovine and porcine tissues. It also asked for separation of bovine and porcine meat from poultry meat in the slaughtering and processing plants.
The FSSAI notification relies on two advisories issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in June and December 2014. It asks the Food Safety Commissioners and food business operators dealing in meat and poultry products to comply with the advisories.
The draft is open to public comments for 60 days, beginning January 19. Unregulated use of antibiotics in the poultry and animal husbandry sectors is one of the reasons for the drugs to enter the food chain, which contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance in the long run.
India’s 2011 policy on anti-microbial resistance cited several examples of how indiscriminate use of antibiotics can lead 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.
The poultry industry uses antibiotics as growth promoters to cut down on feed cost and increase the profit margin, going against a Bureau of Indian Standard's 2007 norm banning such use.
“India needs to implement a comprehensive set of regulations, including banning of antibiotic use as growth promoters in the poultry industry. Not doing this will put lives of people at risk,” said Chandra Bhusan, deputy director of Delhi-based green group, Centre for Science and Environment, that last year reported presence of large amount of antibiotics in raw chicken samples collected from Delhi.