Draft notification on antibiotic residue limits for poultry, meat products out

Finally, India's food regulator has come out with a draft notification on the antibiotic residue limits for meat and poultry products.

The move comes in the wake of repeated warnings by medical researchers about the rising risk of antibiotic resistance posed by these sectors.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is responding three years after the Union Agriculture Ministry issued an advisory against using antibiotics in feed as growth promoter in the poultry industry.

The November 7 draft lists 21 antibiotics used by both humans and animals and another 21 that are being used exclusively in the livestock and poultry sector. It sets the residue limits for each of these medicines in   meat and milk.

The draft notification also lists 77 veterinary drugs with residue limits. As many as 18 medicines and chemicals, including some antibiotics, have been banned in fisheries and shrimp farming.

For 30 days, comments from the public will be received. Thereafter, it will be placed before the scientific panel of FSSAI on pesticide and antibiotic residue. The panel's recommendations would be scrutinised by a second scientific committee before the standards are notified.

Earlier this year, a research study brought out new evidence of widespread misuse of antibiotics in the poultry sector, triggering very high growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Indian poultry chicken raised for meat and eggs.

While consumption of chicken or eggs is not directly related to the development of antibiotic resistance in humans, the misuse makes the disease-causing bugs more virulent. Through a process of evolution, the bugs learn how to overcome any assault by drugs. When humans contract infections, it becomes difficult for the doctors to treat with   antibiotics.

High risk states    

Widespread resistance to antibiotics has emerged as a big public health threat. Six Indian states, Delhi and Karnataka included, account for more than 90% of the resistant cases, according to India's first long-term nationwide study on rising antibiotic resistance  published  last year. Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal are the other four states with a large number of drug-resistant cases.

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