CSE assesses antibiotic misuse in dairy sector

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CSE’s assessment shows that dairy farmers indiscriminately use antibiotics for diseases

An online meeting and consultation of key stakeholders, organised recently by New Delhi based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on the subject of antibiotic use in the Indian dairy sector, put the spotlight on this question and its answers.

The event 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 concerned departments from different states. 

CSE’s assessment shows that dairy farmers indiscriminately use antibiotics for diseases such as mastitis (infection/inflammation of the udder), a common ailment in dairy animals. Often, these include critically important antibiotics (CIAs) for humans – the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that these antibiotics should be preserved in view of the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance.

These CIAs include aminoglycosides and penicillins as well as third-generation cephalosporins and fluroquinolones, which are considered highest priority critically important antibiotics (HPCIAs). 

These antibiotics – despite a law against it – are easily available without the prescription of a registered veterinarian and stocked at farms. Farmers often inject animals based on their own judgement of signs and symptoms of a disease without any veterinary supervision. 

CSE researchers also point towards inadequate focus on testing for antibiotic residues in the milk collected by some state milk federations, which process it and sell packaged milk and dairy products under popular brands. 

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