Poultry gets hormone taint, but organic way needs official stamp

December 20, 2017

HYDERABAD: Organic chicken and mutton have become the new buzzwords after scientists have found growthpromoting hormones and antibiotics being used at regular caged poultry farms. While the fear of long-term health damage from the consumption of non-organic chicken has spurred demand for alternatives, certification remains a problem.

A recent study by the Hyderabad-based National Centre for Research on Meatfound that in 50 samples tested in Hyderabad, 29 samples (58%) contained residue of one or more antibiotics. Of this, 14% of the samples had antibiotics from two groups (Tetracyclines and Fluoroquinolones). In a relief, in none of the samples the four tested antibiotics were above MRL (the maximum limit) value of 100 ppb set as a standard by the European Commission.

Ciprofloxacin was detected in all five zones of Hyderabad and 22 samples tested positive for this. The maximum residue was recorded in the west zone in samples from Yousufguda. Enrofloxacin was also detected in all five regions with 44% of samples testing positive.

For its study, the Centre studied poultry samples from five zones in Hyderabad, testing samples from 10 chicken retail outlets from each zone.

While several poultry farmers based around Hyderabad have begun to offer organic chicken, which they claim is devoid of antibiotics and steroids, experts say it may take at least two years to get the 'Certified Organic Chicken' label in the market.

In a bid to regulate the organic industry, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has issued guidelines for organic farming of chicken and sheep. The guidelines have been formulated by experts, including scientists of National Research Centre on Meat. In keeping with them, the APEDA has given the goahead to two agencies in Bengaluru and Jaipur to certify organic chicken. Hyderabad-based 'Vedic Organic' applied for authorisation as a certifying agency, but the matter is still pending.

While the call for more organic alternatives has risen, some farmers and experts feel the trend has not caught on fast enough. An organic farmer, Dharmendra Reddy, of Bioms Organics at Gundla pochampally told TOI , "Even after scientific studies, there is no awareness among consumers regarding organic chicken. We sell a live bird (organic) at ₹200 and cut chicken at ₹360." Speaking about what goes into raising an organic bird, he said, "The birds are farmed using natural feed. We don't use any antibiotics and growth hormones due to which mortality is high when compared to broiler chicken. The response is not great, and we are facing difficulties of certification."

National Centre for Research on Meat director, Dr S Vaithiyanathan, told TOI, "A research project on organic meat production system for sustainable sheep husbandry and promotion of consumer health" is being carried out in collaboration with ICAR-CRIDA, Hyderabad, at Hayatnagar Research Farm.CO-4 grass and hedge lucerne have been planted. The fodder is being produced organically without utilization of any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Aditi Organic Certification Pvt Ltd., Bengaluru, which was selected for organic certification is carrying out the process for the fodder."

In absence of any regulation, poultry owners misuse antibiotics and its time authorities carry out surprise checks to put an end to harmful health hazard to humans caused by overusing medicines on the birds.