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Weekly Overview: Global Concerns over Antibiotic Residues and Resistance

31 July 2014

GLOBAL - Pressure is mounting against the use of antibiotics in farm animals in India and the UK, while in the US, a mandatory ban on in-feed antibiotics has been averted - at least, for now. A consumer survey in the US reveals that consumers rely on the national media and animal rights organisations for their information on animal welfare and reported cases of abuse do reduce purchases.

Advocacy think-tank, the Centre for Science and Environment, is seeking a ban on antibiotic growth promoters in the Indian poultry industry and other measures following the publication of a report into antibiotic residues found in Indian chicken meat.

Its report, ‘Antibiotics in Chicken: from Farm to Fork’, says that Indians are developing resistance to antibiotics and, hence, falling prey to a host of otherwise curable ailments.

Some of this resistance might be due to large-scale unregulated use of antibiotics in the poultry industry, according to the report, which includes a study that found residues of antibiotics in 40 per cent of the samples of chicken tested. Chicken is one of the most popular ingredients for non-vegetarian foods in India.

In the United States, the Court of Appeals has overturned lower court rulings that compelled the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to hold hearings on antibiotic use in animal feeds.

The reversal of the lower court ruling means that the FDA is empowered to reject two citizen challenges to its policy, which discourages but does not ban the use of penicillin and some tetracyclines in feed for chickens, cattle and pigs.

The Green Party in the United Kingdom is calling on members and supporters to sign the petition produced by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, calling for a ban on the routine use of antibiotics in farmed animals.

Also in the UK, concern is mounting over the threat of veterinary medicine residues in imported foods, particularly because the inspection process to root out products with high residue levels and illegal veterinary products is due to end in the coming year.

Many US consumers gain all their knowledge of poultry welfare from animal rights organisations, without any input from farmers or producers, according to a new survey by Purdue University.

England's agriculture ministry has published a report revealing that some improvements have been made in climate change impact by the agricultural sector in terms of soil nitrogen balance and artificial fertiliser use over the last decade, while a reduction in broiler feed conversion has been achieved in the last two years.

And finally, Brazilian meat processor, JBS – together with its US poultry processing operation, Pilgrim’s Pride – has acquired the poultry processing operations of Tyson in Mexico and Brazil.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

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