28 Feb, 2018
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) slammed the All India Poultry Development and Services Private Limited for its advertisement and said it is ‘complete misrepresentation’. The particular advertisement highlighted that no antibiotics are used in chicken as an eye wash and alleged that the use of antibiotics in poultry sector is ‘rampant’.
The advertisement refers to the results of a 2014 study conducted by the CSE on chicken, it said while strongly rejecting the way the study results have been twisted to suggest that there is no misuse of antibiotics in the poultry sector and that the chicken produced is safe. “This is complete misrepresentation of the facts and the antibiotic misuse practices adopted by the Indian poultry industry.”
Deputy Director General, CSE, Chandra Bhushan, said “They are even using life-saving drugs like colistin to fatten the chicken. There seem to be no genuine attempt by the industry to reduce antibiotic misuse and this advertisement is eyewash. They are misguiding the nation and trying to dilute their contribution to the problem of antibiotic resistance. This will not help the industry in the long-term. They must act responsibly.” The industry has ignored the results of its latest 2017 study, which show how poultry farms are breeding grounds of superbugs
The advertisement which said that chicken should be eaten as it has a lot of benefits, also went on to say that the Indian poultry industry has already adopted usage of prebiotics, probiotics, phytogenic additives, acidifiers and immuno stimulants as an alternative to antibiotics.
Regarding the issue of maximum residue limits (MRLs) in the advertisement, Amit Khurana, a senior programme manager, Food Safety and Toxins team, CSE said that it is a “prejudiced” view as residue level in food is only one part of the problem. “Resistant bacteria can also get transferred to handlers and consumers. Unabsorbed antibiotics as well as resistant bacteria in chicken droppings which enter into the environment are a big concern. The problem starts with antibiotic misuse.”
Bhushan further added that India does not have any standards on residue levels in chicken meat. “Comparing residue results with the MRL of the European Union is meaningless. Our study was aimed at establishing the fact that banned, critical and highly prescribed antibiotics are being misused by the poultry industry we did not make any comparisons with MRL as India does not have an MRL of its own. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is yet to come up with final standards of antibiotic residues in chicken. We have a National Action Plan on AMR now, but unfortunately there are no funds allocated for it. The plan would have no real functionality without money put behind it,”
CSE researchers believe that even after years of the issue being highlighted, the government response to address the antibiotic resistance crisis has been inadequate so far. There is no legal ban on use of antibiotic growth promoters in poultry. The 2014 advisory from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries has no legal binding.