A study by the Centre of Science and Environment made some shocking revelations on the first day of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week, on November 13. The report released by the Centre showed how strong antibiotics are being consumed by the fast-food consumers even without realising.
The report showed how multinational food chains are using antibiotics in their chicken or other meat to increased production and for disease resistance in unregulated quantity. Some of these food chains have committed to eliminating use of antibiotics globally, but have no plans for India yet.
According to the report:
Specific and time-bound commitments to eliminate antibiotic misuse in chicken supply chains made in several developed countries; no such steps taken in India
- Popular fast food multinationals have committed to eliminating antibiotic misuse in their chicken supply chains in US and other European countries; many have already fulfilled these ambitious, specific and time-bound commitments
- CSE's latest assessment of India-specific plans reveals 'double standards' adopted by these global giants as no such commitments are made for India
- With chicken-based food a big part of their menu, the growing fast food industry is possibly a big contributor to rising Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- CSE recommends that fast food companies come forward and commit to eliminating antibiotic misuse in their meat supply chain in India
"Fast food multinational companies have adopted double standards. They have come out in the open and shown commitment to stop antibiotic misuse in the US and other countries, but have not taken any concrete steps in India. They do not seem to care about the Indian consumer and are not keen to cut-down on their contribution to the rising AMR in this country", said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, Centre for Science and Environment.
"McDonald's, which has over 300 outlets in India and is very popular especially among kids, has no plans of eliminating even the 'highest priority critically important antibiotics' in India at least for the next 10 years. These antibiotics are extensively used in India and must be preserved for human use. The company plans to stop using these in many countries by 2019. However, it did not respond to our queries in India," added Bhushan.
CSE has sought response from 11 foreign multinationals and three India-based brands to understand their plans and policies for eliminating antibiotic misuse in their meat supply chains, which includes sourcing chicken, fish or other meat.
A spokesperson for KFC said, "KFC India adheres to all laws and regulations regarding the use of antibiotics. We are committed to ensuring that our food is safe for our customers. We would like to assure our consumers that KFC India's poultry suppliers follow the standards set by World Health Organisation (WHO) and only use antibiotics that are approved for veterinary use or dual use, and prescribed for maintaining chicken health in a responsible and judicious manner. Furthermore, as part of our strict adherence to robust safety practices and processes, chicken supplied to KFC India is free from any antibiotic residue, as our chicken supplies are subjected to a withdrawal period specific to each medicinal treatment."