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India bans last resort antibiotic in fish and other food producing animals

The ban applies to sale, manufacture and distribution of colistin and its formulations.

July 25, 2019

India’s Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has banned the sale, manufacturing and distribution of colistin and its formulations in aquaculture, poultry, other food-producing animals and animal feed supplements. The move is expected to help regulate antibiotic misuse in these animals and help contain antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers colistin as a ‘highest priority critically important antimicrobial’ for humans and the move has been welcomed by India’s Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE, said the health ministry’s ban would help preserve this last-resort antibiotic for humans and save lives from deadly antibiotic-resistant infections. “It will go a long way in fighting antibiotic resistance,” he said.

Antibiotic resistance is a global public health crisis, which is believed to heavily impact India. Over the last several years, CSE has consistently highlighted the issue of antibiotic misuse in the food animal sector and easy availability of colistin as a growth promoter feed supplement. CSE researchers believe that for effective enforcement, states will have to play a key role. They also suggest that the food standards for antibiotic residues by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India must reflect this development.

The Indian National Action Plan on AMR (2017-21) aims to gradually eliminate animal use of critically important antibiotics. Some like quinolones, macrolides and aminoglycosides are commonly used for fattening chicken through feed or for mass routine administration in the absence of a disease.

“The new law shows that we are getting serious about limiting antibiotic misuse in animals. The next step is to phase out other critically important antibiotics of highest priority, starting from their use as growth promoters,” said Amit Khurana, program director, food safety and toxins, CSE.

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