The Telegraph
Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fast-food chicken bias finger

New Delhi: An NGO claimed on Monday that several fast-food multinationals had set timelines abroad to eliminate from their food chain chicken exposed to unnecessary antibiotics but remain silent about their plans in India.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said it had found that some global giants had eliminated or would eliminate chicken exposed to medically important antibiotics in other countries.

The CSE said it had sought responses from 11 multinational and three domestic companies. It received responses from four multinational brands - Domino's Pizza, Subway, Dunkin Donuts and Burger King - and two Indian brands - Barista and Cafe Coffee Day.

"None of the six who responded shared any timelines they have for similar action in India," Amit Khurana, head of the food safety and toxins programme, told The Telegraph.

The companies said their practices met all the regulatory requirements in India, Khurana said. Indian laws do not specifically prohibit the use of medically important antibiotics on poultry or livestock farms, whereas regulations are tighter in many other countries.

Barry Sum, director of corporate relations in Asia Foundational Markets, McDonald's, said the company was "working with suppliers, academic advisers, scientists and non-governmental organisations on sourcing our food and packaging responsibly and sustainably".

"The global vision for antibiotic stewardship in food animals and antibiotics use policy for broiler chicken we announced in August this year is taking a tiered approach," he added.

Sum said: "There are a number of factors involved in the implementation of these changes, including suppliers changing farm practices across a diverse range of geographies at various levels of maturity, establishing processes to verify antibiotic usage at farm level across the supply chain and developing robust verification programmes to ensure our requirements are being met."

While markets around the world support McDonald's global policy in principle, Sum said, "it is because of (such) factors that we are enabling each market to reach compliance at a credible and achievable timeline based on their local situation".

The CSE has called on the government to make laws to prohibit the abuse of antibiotics on farms.

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