The Ministry of Health has for the first time, and after many such calls, notified a timeframe for which food-producing animals or marine products have to be kept off antibiotics before they enter the human food chain.
Under the new regulations, which were partially enforced for a three-month period in early January, the ministry said that the withdrawal period, “shall be less than seven days for egg and milk, 28 days for meat from poultry and mammals, including fat and offal, before they enter the human food chain.”
These parameters for marine products and fish would be marked on-label, a ministry official told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“India had no regulation previously that could quantify how much antibiotics can be used in animals and till when. That regulation is here and food safety regulators are now legally able to act on food producers violating it,” he said.
The regulation was introduced after a scientific panel agreed with food safety experts that the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animals was harmful to humans.
However constant pressure from food regulators in the European Union is thought to have played a part.
“The panel arrived on the conclusion that antibiotics pumped into cows, swine, chickens, and fish was entering the food chain and the residual consumption of these drugs made humans develop resistance to these drugs,” he said.
The new withdrawal period regulations, he reasoned, would ensure that the said meat products do not carry antibiotic residues in quantities in excess of the maximum residual limits laid down.