A recent study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found antibiotics in around 40% of chicken samples tested.
Why is this fact significant - one may ask. Antibiotics are used to fight bacterial infections. Your doctor always advises you to take antibiotics only when prescribed and to complete the full course even if you feel better after a few doses. This is because, if the bacteria are not completely killed, they have a chance of developing resistance to the antibiotic, that is, the antibiotic may not be effective against the same bacteria in the future. Given the fact that there are a limited number of antibiotics and newer antibiotics are being made available at a relatively slow rate and at a very high cost, this could lead to a dangerous situation. Imagine if you have an infection, and no available antibiotic is effective against it!
AdvertisementThe CSE study has highlighted an important source of drug resistance - eating chicken fed with antibiotics. With the growing demands for poultry as food, poultry farms often use an easy but potentially dangerous method of fattening chickens and preventing infections in them - they give them antibiotics! Thus, bacteria are exposed to the antibiotic and could develop resistance. In addition, if the small doses of antibiotics are eaten by humans in their poultry-based foods, the bacteria in humans could also develop resistance to the antibiotic.
The proportion of chickens that tested positive for the presence of antibiotics is also alarming. In Delhi and NCR, 40% of the 70 samples tested were positive for antibiotics. In fact, some samples showed the presence of multiple antibiotics. The antibiotics included those from the tetracycline and fluoroquinolones groups, antibiotics that are commonly used for treatment of several infections like urinary tract infections, respiratory tract infections etc. in humans.
Thus, besides judicious use of antibiotics to prevent drug resistance, there is yet another way to prevent drug resistance - ban the use of antibiotics in chicken and other poultry. Previous experience from Denmark shows that this may not have a detrimental effect on poultry production either.
List of Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria
India has the dubious reputation of being a source of resistant bacteria due to the easy availability of antibiotics - a bacterial enzyme producing resistance is even named after the national capital. Banning use of antibiotics in poultry could be an important step in dealing with the problem, at least to some extent.