Antibiotics in Dairy Sector

Context: Recently, a survey report published by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) stated that the antibiotics are being extensively misused in the dairy sector.

  • The meeting was attended by a wide spectrum of experts and participants from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB); the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and representatives from specialised educational and research institutions, civil society bodies, and departments concerned from States.

Concerns associated with Extensive Use of Antibiotics in Dairy Sector

  • The residues of the antibiotics remain largely untested in milk, which is an integral part of Indian diets, particularly of children.
  • Indiscriminate use of antibiotics: The dairy farmers indiscriminately use antibiotics for diseases such as mastitis (infection/inflammation of the udder).
  • Stocking of antibiotics without prescription: The abused antibiotics, despite a law against it, are easily available without the prescription of a registered veterinarian and stocked at farms.
  • Lack of veterinary supervision: The farmers often inject animals based on their own judgment of signs and symptoms of a disease without any veterinary supervision.
  • Inadequate focus on testing: The report point towards inadequate focus on testing for antibiotic residues in the milk collected by some State federations, which process it and sell packaged milk and dairy products under popular brands.
  • Selling milk of under-treatment animals: The farmers often sell milk while the animal is under treatment, which increases the chances of antibiotic residues.

Recommendations of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on usage of dairy products

  • It recommended limiting the use of antibiotics, particularly critically important antibiotics (CIAs) and no use of highest priority critically important antibiotics (HPCIAs).
  • The existing standards for antibiotic residues must be modified accordingly.
  • It aims to set up a robust mechanism so that the antibiotics are not easily available without prescription.

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