Call to keep antibiotics out of the food chain

10:07, April 13, 2010      

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Government authorities have been encouraged to set up stricter regulations to monitor the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock feed to ensure food safety.

The addition of antibiotics to livestock feed for non-therapeutic purposes is widely practiced by some breeders due to poor breeding conditions and loose regulations, experts said.

"It used to be a commonly adopted method for raising livestock," a leading expert on feed research in Beijing, who declined to be named, told China Daily on Monday.

Antibiotics not only prevent livestock from getting sick, but also help to promote growth by assisting their digestive systems in the absorption of nutrients, which helps them to remain healthy, he said.

All of this sounds reasonable enough, except that the practice has been banned.

"Excluding therapeutic purposes, antibiotics are banned from being used on livestock, including chickens, pigs and cows. Once used, the drugs stay in the animals' bodies, as well as in their meat, eggs and milk products," he said.

"After people consume the products, the antibiotics enter their bodies and activate the harmful microorganism's resistance against the drugs. Once a disease is caused by that very microorganism, treatment would be difficult.

"With the current poor conditions and environmental pollutants, applying antibiotics remains the most efficient method to raise livestock. The situation is usually better in large-scale plants, but you can't require individual farmers to reach the same standard when they don't have that kind of money," he said.

A recent visit to livestock farms in Northwest China's Shaanxi province confirmed the situation. The unregulated use of antibiotics is widespread among local farmers, the Oriental Outlook, a periodical under Xinhua News Agency, reported on Monday.

"The irrational application of veterinary drugs, especially antibiotics, among the raisers is worrisome.," Wang Jingyu, director of the veterinary hospital affiliated with the Northwest Agriculture and Forest Science and Technology University in Shaanxi, was quoted as saying by the magazine.

Source: China Daily(By WANG YAN)


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