With Chicken sales impacted in certain states of India after a report by Centre for Science and Environment claiming to find antibiotics residue in, industry players are now saying that the antibiotic residue levels are way below the international norms. Pune-based Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group’s, that produces and markets chickens under the Venkys brand, said that the levels of antibiotic residues found in the study conducted by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) are far below the European Union Standards – which are the most stringent in the world. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), claimed that resistance to antibiotics in humans in India was growing because of indiscriminate use of these drugs by poultry farmers. CSE made the claim on the basis of a study of 70 chicken samples in and around Delhi. It tested three tissues - muscle, liver and kidney - for the presence of six antibiotics used widely in poultry: oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline and doxycycline (class tetracyclines); enrofloxacin and ciprofloxacin (class fluoroquinolones) and neomycin (an aminoglycoside). The study found that 40 per cent of the samples contained residues of antibiotics. While 22.9 per cent contained residues of one antibiotic, the remaining 17.1 per cent samples showed residues of more than one antibiotic. According to the group, for antibiotic such as Ciprofloxacin, the residue of which found in Delhi/NCR region was 0.00355 to 0.06459 ppm, the EU Standard recommends a range of 0.1 to 0.3 ppm.
Similarly EU Standard recommends Enrofloxacin range to be 0.1 to 0.3 ppm and in Delhi/NCR region it was found to be in the range of 0.0037 to 0.131 ppm, and for Oxytetracycline the international standard varied from 0.1 to 0.3 ppm under EU Standards and 2.0 to 12 ppm under the US Standards, among others.
"It is obvious that the antibiotic residue levels in chicken produced and marketed in our country are way below the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) prescribed by the European Union and USA - and, it is absolutely safe to eat and enjoy chicken," said Anuradha Desai, Chairperson Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group.
The group further claimed that compared to the huge volume of poultry meat production in India - 3.8 million tons per annum i.e. more than 10,000 tons per day - the sample size of the study i.e. 70 chickens, is a miniscule, and cannot be taken as a reflection of the status in the entire industry. Be that as it may - even within this small sample size, 60 per cent of the samples were found to be negative for antibiotic residue - and in the remaining 40 per cent also, the actual level of residues was far below the MRL prescribed by the EU and other advanced countries.
"World over, antibiotics are used for treatment of diseases - not only in poultry, but also in various other animals, including cattle. Compared to the level of antibiotic use in dairy - and consequently the residue levels in dairy products - it is far less in poultry industry, for the simple reason that dairy animals like buffalo are much larger in size, and their life span is much longer than broiler birds. Desai further added: "Our poultry farmers are well trained and well informed: they do not resort to indiscriminate use of antibiotics. They are also conscious that it is highly expensive to use antibiotics. They prefer prevention of disease using non-antibiotic feed additives like probiotics and prebiotics rather than treatment with expensive antibiotics. Antibiotics are used only when absolutely unavoidable."