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Animal protection body raises concern over presence of antibiotics in raw milk samples

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: November 12, 2018  | 16:30 IST

New Delhi, Nov 12 (PTI) An animal protection body on Monday expressed concern over the presence of antibiotics in raw milk samples collected from urban dairies and said this could be contributing to the risk of 'superbugs' which is a "rising global problem". Excessive antibiotics can directly lead to the development of bacteria which is resistant to important antibiotics for both human and animals which become ineffective when sick. These are known as 'superbugs'. World Animal Protection said reports about milk adulteration have been previously highlighted as public health risks, but recent research found presence of antibiotics in raw milk samples from peri-urban and urban dairies in Gujarat, which are "even more alarming and could be contributing to the risk of 'superbugs'." It urged the dairy companies to publicly commit to not source milk from these urban and peri-urban dairies. The body said last month, the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University reported antibiotics in 20 per cent of milk samples from urban and peri-urban dairy animals in Ahmedabad while noting alarming levels of up to three times the limits tolerated by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in almost half of these samples. The routine overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture has now been recognised by the World Health Organisation and the UN as a significant contributor to the problem of 'superbugs', it said. "There is substantial evidence that Superbugs can enter the food chain passing directly from farm animals via milk and meat we eat and via antibiotic residues. Superbugs have also been found in water run-off from farms and in manure released from farms. "Superbugs currently kill 700,000 people per year, though the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation claims that deaths could amount to 10 million per year costing 100 trillion USD annually by 2050," the World Animal Protection said. It said irresponsible and excessive use of antibiotics in the dairy industry is commonly associated with low welfare conditions in these urban and peri–urban dairies. "Rampant use of antibiotics is an indiscriminate compensatory mechanism used to offset the dire conditions in which these animals are kept," the animal protection body said. These include being tethered round the clock, animals forced to lie in their own urine and feces, no room to lie comfortably and restriction to basic movement like turning around or walking, poor shelter and lack of clean drinking water. The body said its team had recently visited many urban and peri-urban dairies in Delhi and found that the animals were being kept in appalling conditions and most of these dairies failed to provide even basic welfare to cows and buffaloes. "This is a critical issue for the health and welfare of dairy animals. Contaminated raw milk is a direct health risk to people consuming milk from peri-urban and urban dairies. It could also be entering the packaged milk supply. As a first step, we urge the dairy companies to publicly commit to not source milk from these dairies," the India Country Director at World Animal Protection, Gajender K Sharma, said. The World Animal Protection said it is raising awareness among people through 'The Better Dairy Campaign' and is asking them to urge dairy companies to commit to not source milk from urban and peri–urban dairies. PTI TDS NSD

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