A new policy will ban the use of over 20 antibiotics or pharmacologically active substances in seafood products. (Photo: FAO/Stock File/FIS)
Govt to check antibiotics used in aquaculture
Monday, April 18, 2011, 04:30 (GMT + 9)
The country’s farmers will for the first time have to curb the amount of antibiotics they use to raise marine animals such as prawns when the National Policy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance goes into effect in the near future.
Created under the chairmanship of Dr. R K Srivastava, directorate-general of Health Services, of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the policy was completed in January. It bans the use of over 20 antibiotics or pharmacologically active substances in seafood products.
"A comprehensive policy has been formulated and we are satisfied about how it has been developed. It is now awaiting union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's approval and also the budgetary implication and other financial constraints are being looked at," confirmed Dr Chand Wattal, chairperson of clinical microbiology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi and member of the task force formed to enforce the policy, reports FnBNews.
Antibiotics and other pharmacologically active substances banned under the policy include all nitrofurans, chloroform, chlorpromazine, metronidazole, ronidazole, ipronidazole, fluoroquinolones and glycopeptides in any facility processing seafood including shrimps, prawns or any other marine animal.
Fish farmers use antibiotics to prevent and treat disease and make the animals grow bigger. But no regulation regarding the use of antibiotics in livestock currently exists, save for a provision formulated in the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules in 1955.
When drafting the new policy, lawmakers considered the risks intrinsic to utilising antibiotics in the food chain, such as the emergence of antibiotic resistance in humans who consume those animals.
"Antibiotics are used by farmers to prevent infection in fish or poultry. However, till now there was no limitation,” commented Professor Randeep Guleria from AIIMS, a part of the task force, reports The Times of India.
“We didn't want such fish or meat to enter the food chain and lead to the emergence of antibiotic resistance in humans who eat it. That's why we have fixed limits," he explained.
Further, an inter-sectoral coordination committee will be created to include experts from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and the Drug Controller General of India (Member Secretary) and assigned specific tasks.
The said committee will be in charge of reviewing available data on the use of antimicrobials, producing data by running studies on their use as animal growth-promoters (AGPs), specifying antibiotics for use and reviewing current laws on the use of AGPs in other countries and whether they could be used in India, among other activities.
Mainly, it will examine the development of regulations on antimicrobials usage in animals and the requisite labelling requirements in food products.
The committee will also have to revise the PFA Rules 1995-part XVIII: Antibiotic and other pharmacologically active substances, if required, to improve the scope for inclusion of other food products and antimicrobials.
By Natalia Real