INTERNATIONAL -- As if the air pollution wasn’t enough for city dwellers, the latest assessment release by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) noted that fast food multinational companies do not have any India-specific commitments to eliminate misuse of antibiotics in their meat supply chains.
Also read, Multinational Fast Food Chains Ignoring Mitigation Opportunity, Report Finds.
Released at the beginning of ‘World Antibiotic Awareness Week’, the study highlights that these global giants have made ambitious, specific and time-bound commitments in the US and other countries to eliminate misuse of antibiotics, owing to growing pressure from regulators and other stakeholders.
Most of these companies have an over-arching global policy that recognises the need to limit antibiotic misuse to contain rising antibiotic resistance.
“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 antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in this country,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.
The assessment notes that most companies aimed to completely stop using medically important antibiotics – identified and categorised by the World Health Organization (WHO) into important, highly important and critically important – in their chicken supply chains in other countries.
Few have planned to eliminate only the routine use i.e. the non-therapeutic use for growth promotion and disease prevention. In fact, in the US, many companies have fulfilled their promise by now and several others will do so by 2018.
“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 Mr. Bhushan.
The CSE 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.
“Seven multinational brands and one Indian brand did not respond to us at all. While some others shared their practices of sourcing and testing, they did not specify any timelines by which they planned to eliminate antibiotic misuse,” said Amit Khurana, head of Food Safety and Toxins programme, CSE.
The CSE has demanded that fast food companies make time-bound India-specific commitments to eliminate routine antibiotic use for growth promotion and disease prevention in their supply chains for chicken, fish and other meat. They must also commit to stop any use of critically important antibiotics.
Following in the footsteps of their global counterparts, they should ensure third-party supply chain audits, laboratory testing for antibiotic residues and resistant bacteria, documentation of antibiotic use and commit to making these reports public, said the CSE.
SOURCE Bindu Shajan Perappadan, The Hindu
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