Fast food giants do little about antibiotic misuse

Fast food giants do little about antibiotic misuse

Fast food giants do little about antibiotic misuse

Most of the multinational fast food companies in India don't make any commitments towards doing away with the common practice of antibiotic abuse in their poultry products, though the same firms made such commitments to the US food regulator.

Exposing the double standards of these fast food majors, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said the industry was a big contributor to rising antimicrobial resistance in India - an emerging public health threat.

The food companies contacted by the CSE for its survey were McDonalds, Subway, Domino's Pizza, Dunkin' Donuts, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Burger King, Starbucks and Wendy's. In addition, three Indian brands - Cafe Coffee Day, Barista and Nirula's - were also approached.

Misuse of antibiotics as growth promoter is a major ill plaguing the Indian poultry sector.

The risk of rising drug resistance due to poor regulation was red-flagged by multiple reports and studies.

Standards yet to be set

In 2014, the Union Agriculture Ministry issued an advisory not to use antibiotics in feed and feed supplement as growth promoter of commercial stocks. However, there is no mandatory official checks on the health of the poultry sector. Indian food regulator FSSAI is yet to fix antibiotic residue standards in poultry products.

When CSE, the Delh-based non governmental organisation, asked these fast food chains about their position on antibiotic misuse in their poultry source, most of them didn't respond. And those who replied did not spell out their future plan.

But each of the 10 multinational food firms outlined their antibiotic elimination plan to the US regulator. The time-line ranges from 2016 for McDonald's to 2020 for Starbucks. McDonald's also plans to eliminate undesired antibiotics from its poultry sources in China by 2027.

No one mentions India, where the fast food sector is growing fast.

"Fast food multinational companies have adopted double standards. They have shown commitment to stop antibiotic misuse in the US and other countries, but have not taken any concrete steps in India," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, Centre for Science and Environment.

Most of these companies source their chicken meat from a handful of large poultry suppliers.

Widespread misuse of antibiotics in the poultry sector triggered very high growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Indian poultry chickens raised for meat and eggs, a study found earlier this year.

In the whole of Asia, antimicrobial consumption in chicken is expected to grow by 129% by 2030 and the extreme growth is being driven by the expansion of the poultry sector in India, where areas of high consumption are expected to increase by 312% by 2030.

None of the companies reacted to the charges that CSE made so far.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox