NEW DELHI: Every second or third time you eat chicken, there is a good chance that you’re also taking in some antibiotics. And if you think this will make you healthier, think again — this only gives rise to superbugs which are resistant to antibiotics.
A study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found rampant use of antibiotics in chickens, with 40 per cent samples testing positive for antibiotics used for treating serious ailments in human beings, such as tuberculosis. Even vegetarians are under threat, as bacteria from the gut of a drug-resistant chicken can get into the environment and enter the bodies of people who don’t consume it directly.
The study, carried out over a period of six months, tested about 70 samples of chicken — muscle, liver and kidney — from Delhi and NCR for the presence of six antibiotics widely used in poultry: oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline, doxycycline, enrofloxacin, ciprofloxacin and neomycin.
“Our study is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more antibiotics that are rampantly used but which the lab has not tested. Our study proves their rampant use and shows that it can be strongly linked to growing antibiotic resistance in humans in India,” says CSE’s deputy director general and head of the lab Chandra Bhushan. Chicken is the single largest meat product consumed in India.
“Residues of five of the six antibiotics were found in all the three tissues of the chicken samples. Of the 40 per cent samples found tainted with antibiotic residues, 22.9 per cent contained residues of only one antibiotic while the remaining samples had residues of more than one antibiotic,” the study said.
The antibiotics are used in the poultry industry as a growth promoter and chickens are fed antibiotics so that they gain weight and grow faster.
With India having no regulations to control antibiotic use in the poultry industry, the CSE has called for regulations, including banning antibiotic use as growth promoters in poultry.