Indian meat and poultry farmers are continuing to use antibiotics for inducing speedier growth of broiler chickens even though authorities have officially banned the practice, according to a new report.
"Chickens are fed antibiotics so that they gain weight and grow faster," alleged the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment in a study report drawn from 70 chicken samples collected in and around the capital, that was released on Wednesday. The report also claimed the practice can be linked to growing antibiotic resistance in humans in India.
On 3 June, India’s Ministry of Agriculture had warned all state authorities that: "The use of hormones as growth promoters in food-producing animals should be stopped, since it also has adverse effects on human and animal life."
Poultry farmers, however, are refuting the claims. "Misuse of antibiotics is also prevalent among humans in India," Ashok Kumar Sharma, administrator of the Poultry Federation of India told GlobalMeatNews. "If poultry [yield] is reduced, not only the farmers will suffer but the nutrition supply in the country will also be reduced," he added.
Meanwhile, chicken traders in Delhi’s biggest Gazipur market said they had long suspected adulteration of chicken feed. "We have been getting two-week-old chickens looking like four-week-old fully grown birds," chicken trader Mohammad Zafar told GlobalMeatNews.
In the case of legitimate antibiotics use, the Indian Ministry of Agriculture has mandated a withdrawal period of seven days for eggs and milk and 28 days for meat before animal products are fit for human consumption.
The All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association (AIMLEA) had called a special meeting of its members to discuss improper use of antibiotics on 1 August in New Delhi, but the meeting was postponed for logistical reasons, an association official told GlobalMeatNews.