Anuradha Desai, the chairperson of the National Egg Co-ordination Committee (NECC), Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group and Venky's (India) Limited, said: The antibiotic residue levels in chicken produced and marketed in India are way below the maximum residue level (MRL) prescribed by the European Union and the US, and it is absolutely safe to eat and enjoy chicken, Desai has said.
Our poultry farmers are well trained and well informed. They do not resort to indiscriminate use of antibiotics. They are also conscious that it is highly expensive to use antibiotics. They prefer prevention of disease using non-antibiotic feed additives like probiotics and prebiotics rather than treatment with expensive antibiotics. Antibiotics are used only when unavoidable, Desai claimed.
The CSE study had last month reported a large-scale use of antibiotics in the 70-chicken samples in the Delhi-NCR region. These samples were tested for six commonly used antibiotics and 40% of the samples tested positive, and more than one antibiotic residues were found in 17% of the samples. CSE had said that India has no regulation on controlling antibiotic use in the poultry industry and the country had not set any limits for antibiotic residues in chicken
Desai said that compared with a huge volume of poultry meat production in India, the sample size of the study, 70 chickens, was minuscule and could not be taken as a reflection of the entire industry. The poultry meat production in India stands at 3.8 million tonne per annum or more than 10,000 tonne per day.
Even within this small sample size, 60% of the samples were found to be negative for antibiotic residue, and in the remaining 40%, the actual level of residues was far below the MRL prescribed by the EU and other advanced countries, she said.
The use of antibiotics in the poultry industry and residues were far less compared with the level of antibiotic use in the dairy industry and the residue in dairy products, Desai said.
Venkateshwara Hatcheries is also into day old chicks, poultry feed as well as manufacturing of poultry vaccines while Venky's India is into poultry and poultry products such as processed chicken products as well as animal health products. The group claims 80% market share of the Indian poultry industry.