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Study in Delhi area finds 40% of chickens have presence of antibiotic residues harmful for humans

Counterview Desk
A Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study, “Antibiotics in Chicken Meat” has found that 40 per cent of the chickens on which it carried out tests have the presence of antibiotic residues, suggesting that poultry farms in India that produced chickens are either “misusing” or “overusing”  antibiotic into chickens . The study says, “The use of antibiotics in food animals poses a major risk for humans due to antibiotic resistance”, adding, “Antibiotic use is related to emergence of resistant bacteria in the animal which later transmits to human through food, environment and direct contact with the affected meat.”
Wanting the Government of India to come up a concrete policy setting maximum residue limits (MRL) which should be strictly enforced while feeding chickens, the CSE study says, there should be insertion of antibiotics should be carried out a strict manner “to make the meat safer for human consumption”, adding, “Alternatives to antibiotics in poultry feed need to be developed and used where ever possible. Organic poultry farming may be encouraged by providing appropriate incentives to the farmers in form of subsidy.”
The study believes, this is particularly important because “the Indian poultry sector has been growing at around 8-10 percent annually over the last decade.” In 2013, “with a growth rate of eight percent over 2012, the total poultry market size including layers (chickens raised for eggs) and broilers (chickens raised for meat) is estimated at Rs 58,000 crore”, it adds. “Specifically, the domestic poultry meat production (broiler - carcass weight) is estimated at 3.5 million tonnes which is known to be growing at over 10 percent for several years.”
The study was carried out after it was “accidentally found” that by-products of antibiotic production (dried Sreptomyces aureofaciens broth) which contain a high level of vitamin B12, when fed to poultry animals resulted in higher growth. “Eventually, it was discovered that the trace amounts of antibiotics remaining in these byproducts accounted for this growth. Since then the antibiotics have been used on poultry in large quantities to enhance production in poultry”, the study underlines.
A total of 70 chicken samples were tested in two phases from different markets of Delhi National Capital Region NCR region -- Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, and Faridabad. These chicken samples were analyzed for the presence of antibiotics in two phases. In 14 samples, both muscles and liver were tested. In four samples, muscles, liver and kidney were tested. In the remaining 52 samples only muscles were tested. “Each sample was analyzed in triplicate”, the study, carried out by a group of experts -- Ramakant Sahu, Poornima Saxena, Prof (Dr) H B Mathur and Prof. (Dr) HC Agarwal -- says.
“Out of 70 samples tested in two phases 28 samples (40%) were found to contain residues of one or more antibiotics. About 23% (16/70) chickens had residue of one antibiotic while about 17%  (12/70) had residues of more than one antibiotic”, the study says, adding, “Tetracyclines (Oxytetracycline, Chlortetracycline and Doxycycline) were detected in 10 samples (14.3%). Total Tetracycline (i.e. the sum of concentration of Oxytetracycline, Chlortetracycline and Doxycycline) was found in the range of 16.01 – 46.02 µg/kg.”
It further says, “Fluoroquinolones (Enrofloxacin and Ciprofloxacin) were detected in 20 samples (28.6%) in the range 3.37 – 131.75 µg/kg. Total Fluoroquinolone (i.e. the sum of concentration of Enrofloxacin and Ciprofloxacin) was found in the range of 3.37 to 196.34 µg/kg”,  adding, “Three samples contained both Enrofloxacin and Ciprofloxacin. The rest of the samples contained either of them.” 

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