Indians, particularly those living in or around Delhi, should think twice before ordering their much-loved chicken tandooris, tikkas or manchurians.
A study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shows that rampant and unregulated use of antibiotics in the poultry industry is leading to Indians developing resistance to drugs for generally curable diseases.
The antibiotics are used in the poultry industry not for controlling diseases, but because they make the birds grow faster and put on weight.
With nearly 40 per cent of the tested samples of chicken being found to be heavy in antibiotics, public health experts say it could be a reason for increasing antibiotic resistance in India.
"Antibiotics are no more restricted to humans nor limited to treating diseases. The poultry industry uses antibiotics as a growth promoter. Chickens are fed antibiotics so that they gain weight and grow faster," said Sunita Narain, director general, CSE.
Seventy samples of chicken in Delhi and NCR were tested to detect presence of six antibiotics widely used in poultry. These include oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline and doxycycline, enrofloxacin, ciprofloxacin and neomycin, an aminoglycoside. Residues of nearly five of the six antibiotics were found in the chicken samples.
Of the 40 per cent samples found containing antibiotic residues, 22.9 per cent contained residues of only one antibiotic while the remaining 17.1 per cent samples had residues of more than one antibiotic.
Researchers pointed out that antibiotics were frequently pumped into chickens during their heavily curtailed life-span of a mere 35-42 days – by which time they would have already landed on someone's table.