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Chicken Eaters, Beware!

Chicken Eaters have had a rather unpleasant weekend. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) sent shock waves across the non vegetarian community with its latest findings from a study conducted recently.

What’s Been Happening

Poultry owners and breeders have been recklessly pumping antibiotic drugs into their chickens to fatten them up and prevent and treat a variety of possible diseases and infections, all in an effort to boost income. These cheap antibiotics are readily available and their returns in terms of boosted incomes are incomparable. Strangely enough , reports suggest that these poultry farmers seem to have no qualms about accepting that they use high levels of antibiotics.

How They Were Found Out

According to a report in the Times of India[1], a researcher found that 10% of patients in a village with less than nil access to antibiotics had developed a resistance to them. Dr Shetty, who owns the hospital where the researcher investigated the matter, told TOI, ”These are people who probably haven’t taken antibiotics before. They are villagers. We started thinking it could be caused from the food they are eating. That is why I approached CSE to do a study and now the data says it all.”

What the Data Says

The CSE found antibiotic residues in 40% of chicken samples bought from outlets in the Delhi NCR region. TheCSE said 22.9% of the 70 samples it collected contained residues of one antibiotic in a sample, while 17.1% had more than one, with a particular sample purchased from Gurgaon having three. Though the amount of antibiotics found in each sample was not very high and is within the US specified limit, repeated exposure to such antibiotics by regular consumers, poses a very real risk.


The Very Real Risks

Regular consumers of chicken are in danger of developing a resistance to a range of antibiotics, thereby making them immune to cures for a number of common illnesses. The frequency with which the drug laded chicken is consumed directly impacts the level of immunity that has been developed.

Why We Shouldn’t Be That Surprised

In our previous blog posts [2][3], we’ve told you extensively about antibiotic resistant bacteria that can override any defences antibiotics put up, and create havoc within the human body, sometimes having effects that doctors can’t predict until they’re staring them in the face. The one closest to home is the NDM-1 ‘superbug’, which is one of the 7 that’s been identified by the World Health Organization. Dr Randeep Guleria, head pulmonary medicine at AIIMS, told TOI, “The findings aren’t surprising. It’s a big concern and in the last few years after the NDM 1 superbug scare, the medical community has been raising concern about indiscriminate use of antibiotics in poultry and agriculture.”

What Comes Next

Other than a few suggestions directed at the Health Ministry to implements stricter laws in the poultry industry, the solutions to the problems haven’t rolled out as yet. in the mean time, we suggest picking up some soya nuggets on your next trip to the grocery store or perhaps find a more reliable poultry owner who doesn’t pump his chickens with such antibiotics.

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cloudchowk is a healthcare software company based out of Delhi. Its software help medical labs, clinics and patients share information and collaborate seamlessly.

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