FDA to check chicken  for traces of antibiotics

Traces of antibiotics in chicken lead to increased resistance to the medicine in those eating them

Mumbai : The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Maharashtra will henceforth test chicken for traces of antibiotics as they are harmful for those who eat them.

Poultry farms routinely feed antibiotics (that are administered to humans) to chicken to ensure that they don’t catch infection. But if the traces remain in slaughtered chicken they lead to increased resistance to antibiotics in those eating them. This means greater susceptibility to disease, say doctors.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) raised an alarm about this last week when it found that 40 per cent of the chicken samples in Delhi had traces of commonly used antibiotics.

Mahesh Zagade, on his last day as FDA commissioner, said that while it was not illegal to give chicken antibiotics, selling processed chicken with traces of antibiotics is totally unacceptable.

“The CSE report has raised the important issue of antibiotic abuse,’’ he said, admitting that the FDA had not thought of it so far. “Now, we will collect more samples and have them tested at sophisticated labs for traces of antibiotics at parts per million and parts per billion,’’ he said.

CSE tested chicken samples for six commonly used antibiotics and

found 22.9 per cent samples contained residues of one antibiotic while

17.1 per cent samples had traces of more than one. According to the report, which was later endorsed by the Indian Medical Association, consumption of such chicken results in humans becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, eventually suffering from ailments hitherto curable.

Sunita Narain, director-general of CSE, said, “I think the first thing the FDA needs to do is to ban the use of those antibiotics in poultry which are critical to humans.

According to the WHO, there are a number of antibiotics which are critical to the treatment of humans and therefore must not be abused by the poultry industry. In fact, the use of antibiotics among poultry  –  be it for growth promotion or for prevention of infection- must be limited.”

Tanvi Deshpande

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