Antibiotics use in poultry production in recent times
Enough damage is being done by misrepresenting poultry production and its relation to antibiotic resistance developed by poultry. However, it is the primary responsibility of all stakeholders in the food chain to infuse confidence in the consumers’ minds about the safety and wholesomeness of the food they buy. The poultry stakeholders including various veterinary associations, being ethically responsible bodies, have the responsibility in monitoring and production of scientifically safe food. There is an urgent need to put forth the exact picture of commercial chicken production for better understanding & confidence among consumers.
Facts regarding commercial poultry production
- Most of the chicken meat and egg production in the country is under the supervision of Qualified Veterinarians on a day-to-day basis.
- Modern disease diagnosing and monitoring facilities are available all over the country for early detection of diseases to minimize their spread.
- Commercial chicken farms make use of flock health prevention techniques like biosecurity, hygiene practices in farming, vaccinations against major infectious diseases, and the use of nutritiously balanced feed.
- Birds in Commercial farms are scientifically grown by providing adequate feed, water, air, and sufficient space for their movement and social behavior. These parameters have been scientifically studied and modified and upgraded from time to time.
- Birds in Commercial farms are administered antibiotics for a specific period, only when the birds show clinical signs of fever or other diseases situations. There are strict norms followed by commercial poultry producers not to use any antibiotics before ten days the birds go for processing.
- Due to scientific management, driven by technology and highest efficiency with internationally acclaimed best productivity levels, Eggs & chicken is available in India to the consumer at the most affordable prices lower than consumer prices prevailing in neighboring countries and western countries as well.
- As per the National action plan on microbial resistance2 (Government of India), India accounts for only for 3% of global consumption, whereas China accounts for 23%, US 13% and Brazil 9% for all animal usage.
Norms for the use of antibiotics by regulatory bodies
- The judicious use of antibiotics to grow farm animals in India is guided by the regulations set by the regulatory departments like the Ministry of Health under the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India, July 2018 (FSSAI)3 which is the ultimate authority for food safety. These authorities have clearly laid down the norms for antibiotic use to safeguard the health of animals and for tolerable antibiotic residue limits to ensure the safety of the food produced for human consumption. The guidelines include the judicious use of antibiotics in feed or in drinking water to treat and control disease outbreaks under the supervision of veterinarians.
- FSSAI3 has banned the usage of many antibiotics and veterinary drugs in meat and meat products, poultry, and eggs, including seafood shrimp, prawns, and fish.
- Poultry producers in India adopt good farming practices to reduce the incidence of bacterial infections in the flocks. In case of disease outbreaks, poultry producers adhere to the FSSAI guidelines and have in-house veterinarians or consulting veterinarians to guide them in the process of treatment of disease situations. There are more than 3000 veterinarians who are specialists in poultry health and production and are continuously advising & guiding the Indian commercial poultry industry, which has a turnover of over INR 1.5 lakh crore contributing to Indian Agricultural GDP4.
Are there antibiotics in the chicken and eggs we eat?
The Poultry Industry is strongly supported and bound to follow the guidelines laid across by the Government of India and the respective food authorities. A key step in this direction is stipulating Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs)/tolerance limits/safe limits of medicinal residues in the food produced by animals. This is a widely accepted global practice, and well adopted by the Government of India in recent days (Tolerance limit of Antibiotics in the food of Animal origin as per FSSAI which is effective from Jan 2019, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of India).
Consumers can be highly confident about the chicken meat and eggs treated with antibiotics as completely safe because the FSSAI has a rigorous approval process for poultry medicine and withdrawal periods. The FSSAI makes sure the foods produced from farm animals adhere to the Maximum Residue limits (MRLs)/safe limits of medicinal residues.
A recent study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shows the maximum residue limits (MRL) of antibiotics is much lower than the permitted MRL as per European Union (EU) as shown in above table.
Above response is given to the article appeared in The Asianet News via Dailyhunt on 2023 June 4th – Eating chicken can make you a victim of tenth largest disease worldwide.