A green body today alleged that fast food majors in India were adopting “double standards” by committing themselves to eliminating misuse of antibiotics in meat supply chains in a time-bound manner in the West but not in India. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) today released an assessment report based on data in public domain and response obtained from
several multinational companies and three Indian firms selling fast food in the country. “Our study shows that these fast food MNCs do not have any India-specific commitments to eliminate misuse of antibiotics in their meat supply chains. “Surprisingly, these global giants have made ambitious, specific and time-bound commitments in the US and other countries to eliminate antibiotic misuse owing to growing pressure from regulators and other stakeholders,” Deputy Director General of the CSE, Chandra Bhushan, told reporters. This is sheer “double standards”, he said.
PTI approached a few fast food majors to obtain their response to the allegation. While reactions from some of them were not immediately available, Jubilant Foodworks, a domestic franchise for the US-based popular chain Domino’s Pizza, said, “We follow global standards and processes, and ensure that the highest standards of quality and food safety and hygiene are maintained across our supply chain.” The company said in a statement that it has a formal policy in place on usage of antibiotics in poultry birds’ health management to guide their sourcing of poultry. Jubilant Foodworks said it has a very clear time-bound action plan in mitigating the risk in the supply chain.
“We have always had a set of standards followed while sourcing poultry for our products, ensuring that our suppliers follow the right farm practices,” it added.
KFC India in a statement said it adheres to all laws and regulations regarding the use of antibiotics. “Furthermore, as part of our strict adherence to robust safety practices and processes, chicken supplied to KFC India is free from any antibiotic residue, as our chicken supplies are subjected to a withdrawal period specific to each medicinal treatment,” the KFC India claimed. The green body also claimed the many MNCs and three popular Indian fast food firms they approached for the study, did not respond to the queries sent to them on the use of antibiotics for inducing growth of food animals.
Expressing worry over the use of antibiotics in poultry, including chicken, the CSE warned that eating junk food in India involved major health risks for consumers. “Fast food is not good for health and on top of that if the meat is sourced from an animal injected with antibiotics for growth promotion (non-therapeutic use), then it’s a double whammy for the consumer,” he said. Head, Food Safety and Toxins programme at CSE, Amit Khurana however, said, a person may or may not get affected after consuming such food.
About the queries sent to companies, he said seven multinational brands and one Indian brand did not respond at all. Most of these food chains sell chicken-based food across the country. “While some others shared their practices of sourcing and testing, they did not specify any timelines by which they planned to eliminate antibiotic misuse”, he said. The CSE recommended that that these fast food companies “must make ambitious, time-bound India-specific commitments to eliminate routine antibiotic use for growth promotion and disease prevention in their supply chains for chicken, fish and other meat”.
Bhushan said these chains must also stop any use of critically important antibiotics, ensure third-party supply chain audits, laboratory testing for antibiotic residues and resistant bacteria, documentation of antibiotic use and commit to making these reports public.