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CSE’s new assessment of antibiotic misuse in dairy sector says milk is not safe | India News – Times of India


BATHINDA: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Wednesday organized an online meeting and consultation of key stakeholders on antibiotic use in the Indian dairy sector and to know how healthy is the milk, which people consume.
The event was attended by experts from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI); National Dairy Development Board (NDDB); World Health Organization (WHO); Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying; Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and representatives from specialised educational and research institutions, civil society bodies and concerned departments from different states.
It was pointed out that India is world’s largest milk producer producing 188 million tonnes in 2018-19. Urban areas consume 52 percent of this milk and the unorganised sector, comprising milkmen and contractors, caters to 60 percent of this consumer base; the remaining demand being met by dairy cooperatives and private dairies representing organised sector. Researchers point towards inadequate focus on testing for antibiotic residues in the milk collected by some state milk federations, which process it and sell packaged milk under various brands.
CSE has recently published its assessment of antibiotic use in the country’s dairy industry and its findings are disturbing. “We have found that antibiotics are extensively misused in the dairy sector; antibiotic residues remain largely untested in milk, an integral part of Indian diets, particularly of children. While we continue to struggle against Covid-19, we are staring at another pandemic like situation – that of antibiotic resistance fueled by the way we are producing our food, which has become chemical-intensive,” said CSE director general Sunita Narain, speaking at the meeting.
The assessment shows that dairy farmers indiscriminately use antibiotics for diseases such as mastitis (infection/inflammation of the udder), a common ailment in dairy animals. Often, these include critically important antibiotics (CIAs) for humans – the World Health Organization (WHO)has warned that these antibiotics should be preserved in view of the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance. These CIAs include aminoglycosides and penicillins as well as third-generation cephalosporins and fluroquinolones, which are considered highest priority critically important antibiotics (HPCIAs).
These antibiotics, despite against law, are easily available without the prescription of registered veterinarian. Farmers often inject animals based on their own judgement of signs and symptoms of a disease without any veterinary supervision.
“Farmers often sell milk while the animal is under treatment, which increases the chances of antibiotic residues in the milk. While milk sold directly to consumers is not tested, contrary to what one would expect, processed milk sold in packets is also largely unchecked for antibiotic residues,” says Amit Khurana, programme director, food safety and toxins programme, CSE.
“Information shared by various organisations and experts suggest that ethno-veterinary medicines, better management of sub-clinical mastitis and good farm management could contribute towards reducing antibiotic misuse,” Khurana says.

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