November 22, 2017
Several international food chains have been criticised in India for their alleged "double standards" in their commitment to eliminate antibiotic misuse in chicken supply chains.
The Indian Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) noted that popular fast-food multinationals such as McDonald's have committed to eliminating antibiotic misuse in their chicken supply chains in US and several European countries, but that no such commitments were made for India.
"Fast-food multinational companies have adopted double standards. They have come out in the open and shown commitment to stop antibiotic misuse in the US and other countries, but have not taken any concrete steps in India", Chandra Bhushan, CSE deputy director general, lamented.
"They do not seem to care about the Indian consumer and are not keen to cut down on their contribution to the rising AMR (antimicrobial resistance) in this country", he added.
Bhushan claimed that McDonald's, which has over 300 outlets in India and is very popular especially among kids, had no plans of eliminating even the "highest priority critically important antibiotics" in India at least for the next 10 years.
The CSE had sought response from 11 foreign multinationals and three India-based brands about their plans and policies for eliminating antibiotic misuse in their meat supply chains, which includes sourcing chicken, fish and other meats.
Only Subway, Domino's Pizza, Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King responded, with Domino's Pizza and Dunkin' Donuts also sharing test reports.
McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Wendy's did not respond.
Among the Indian brands, Café Coffee Day and Barista responded to CSE's queries, while Nirula's did not respond.
"Most of these (non-responders), including McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut, sell chicken-based food across the country. While some others shared their practices of sourcing and testing, they did not specify any timelines by which they planned to eliminate antibiotic misuse", said Amit Khurana, head of CSE's Food Safety and Toxins Programme.
Bhushan urged the fast-food industry to be aggressive about stopping antibiotic misuse in India, saying it's their responsibility toward the Indian consumer.
He also said that big institutional buyers such as hotels, hospitals, airlines and railways should likewise develop policies to procure meat raised without routine use of antibiotics.
"The government must also make laws to prohibit antibiotic misuse", he likewise said.-Rick Alberto