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Shell Shock: States Asked to Curb Sales of Veterinary Antibiotics as Indian Shrimp Exports Face Hurdles

By: Himani Chandna

News18.com

Last Updated: July 30, 2022, 09:00 IST

New Delhi, India

Importing nations have become stricter about India as a source of shrimp, said the Financial Times report. Representational pic/AP

Importing nations have become stricter about India as a source of shrimp, said the Financial Times report. Representational pic/AP

Central Drugs Standard Control Organisaton made the decision against the backdrop of a recent report in Financial Times that says India’s fast-growing food sector has 'become a test case for the use and abuse of drugs'

The country’s apex drug regulatory authority has asked states and union territories to restrict the availability and usage of banned veterinary antibiotics used in aquaculture such as for shrimps, News18.com has learnt.

The decision was taken after the chairman of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) – a department under the ministry of commerce and industry – wrote a letter to the secretary, of the ministry of health and family welfare, requesting to take “effective measures” to restrict the availability and usage of banned antibiotics in all food-producing animals including shrimps and fishes.

This is not the first time MPEDA has requested the government to look into the matter. Following the receipt of the request, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) issued multiple letters to regulate the sales starting on April 28, 2020.

MPEDA’s move, in turn, is a result of constant nudging by global food importers.

What’s fishy?

According to a recent report in Financial Times, India has quickly grown into one of the world’s largest producers of shellfish and is ranked as the number one shrimp supplier to the US.

The report says that India’s fast-growing food sector has “become a test case for the use and abuse of drugs”.

In response, the report said, the importing nations have become stricter about India as a source of shrimp. “The EU has increased the rate of testing for antibiotic residue in Indian shrimp shipments, according to a 2020 study of the sector for industry journal Reviews in Aquaculture.”

It also said that the US regulators have even resorted to rejecting some Indian shipments after detecting antibiotics.

The experts quoted in the story argue that measuring the scale of antibiotic overuse in the Indian shrimp industry can be difficult. However, they warn there is evidence of high usage as producers administer treatments “preemptively or to promote growth”.

What drug regulator has asked states, UTs

The CDSCO has asked state and UT drug regulators to allow the use of drugs only as per the provisions of Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945, and sensitise chemists, and druggist associations under their jurisdiction to sell antibiotics for veterinary use only on the prescription of registered veterinary practitioners.

Apart from the sales, the office of the drug controller general of India, VG Somani has instructed its officials to send the ‘action taken report’ of the last two years to MPEDA.

The high use of antibiotics in food to rid fish of disease poses a danger to the human body and some states have taken action on their own.

For instance, West Bengal has banned the use of 20 antibiotics in fish food. The state government has formed a task force to conduct market raids.

Following the domestic complaints of falling sick after consumption of fish, the state has also started a campaign against banned antibiotics like nitrofurantoin or chloramphenicol, generally mixed in fish food in the market.

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first published:July 30, 2022, 09:00 IST
last updated:July 30, 2022, 09:00 IST