Notification on Antibiotic Residues in Milk

The FSSAI has notified a revised list of 103 veterinary drugs including antibiotics and presence of antibiotic residues will attract punitive actions.

Are We Ready to Roll Out Contamination - Toxin and Drug Residue - Free Milk Production Regime?

The Government of India, through FSSAI, has recently published a press note notifying that the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Amendment Regulations 2018 will be enforced effective from 1st January 2019. The FSSAI has notified a revised list of veterinary drugs, which is now expanded to 103 including antibiotics.  For a number of antibiotics, the MRL levels have been revised considering the current testing methodologies.  Few drugs like nitrofurans, chloramphenicol, metronidazole and carbadox the MRL has been revised such that mere presence of these chemicals will not be acceptable and will attract punitive actions.

The notification (see the box) rightly emphasizes menace of growing antibiotic resistance (also called super bug phenomenon) to human as well as animal health. This is largely due to irrational use of drugs while treating animals and birds. 

Due to absence of diagnostic facilities the veterinarians are forced to use combination of drugs.

Lack of traceability will make it difficult for milk processors to zero on contamination farmers and areas.   

Interestingly the primary farmers have been excluded from any punitive action but the processors who ultimately supply to consumers would be accountable for detection of contaminants and drug residues.

There is no dispute that organized and regulated action is needed to control this problem, but excluding farmers from scheme of control is counter-productive because in many cases farmers buy medicines from local pharmacist and administer to animals themselves (especially oral medications).  There is also issue of large number of para-veterinarians who do not follow mandate of ‘primary services’ but use medicines and drugs irrationally.  All these drugs are available without prescription with local pharmacy or even grocery shops.  There is no system of documentation of the use of antibiotics by farmers and there are no regulations bringing veterinarians to do this. The issue is therefore complex. The Government has again issued a notification making laws, rules and regulations fully knowing that these are not implementable unless serious efforts are made to create right professional, regulatory, ethical environment.

What would happen if processors start rejecting drug-laden milk from farmers?  How would they react? What would happen if para-vets stop treating animals?  Would not animal suffer?  These are some of the questions that need answers. 

These well meaning, but hard to implement, regulations have increased the Dairy Industry’s fears of inspection, harassment and corruption.

  1. Any solution to avoid antibiotics ?


    1. @Sandip Gayakwad: Solutions associate in exact diagnostic process, identifying etiological agent and optimising use of effective antibiotics in place of ‘gunshot’ type prescription by the veterinarian: also to discard milk, meat etc. during the period of treatment. Anthelmentics like Ivermectin are not injected to meat animals months before sacrifices.

      Narayan S


  2. Good afternoon

    I read your article with great interest. It is interesting (and about time!) that the industry is starting to think seriously (panic?) about the antibiotic issues in milk. In Hatsun, there have been voluntary standards to meet export requirements and these are rigidly adhered to. Because of that there has been a culture of antibiotic awareness developed in Hatsun, which will have to happen in other companies as well.

    It is extremely difficult to identify individual farmers for AB contamination due to the large number of farmers pouring milk combined with the low volumes each farmer produces. Hatsun has taken a more pro-active approach and has explored ways to reduce the incidence of subclinical mastitis (SCM), with the hope/expectation that incidences of clinical mastitis will reduce as well.

    One of the key areas we have developed is the non-antibiotic treatment of SCM. In areas with a high HF presence 1 in 3 cows has SCM (SCC > 800 000). Often these can be identified by low fat concentration. We have then identified products and practices which will treat the high SCC without recourse to ABs.

    One of the key practices is teat dipping, which must become widely adopted in India. Currently it isn’t. And it must be a product/compound which works, not potassium permanganate (which did not work in our trials). Unfortunately, currently iodine based teat dips are classified as a drug, which makes widespread distribution difficult.

    Small farmer, hand milking their cows are fully aware of SCM. Also, if they sell their milk to companies which purchase based on fat and SNF, they will generally see a benefit of using non AB treatment of SCM through a higher milk price.

    We are slowly moving towards non AB treatment of more advance cases of SCM/clinical mastitis (fine line) combining the products we have identified as reducing SCC with ethno-veterinary treatments which reduce udder inflammation. Informal feedback is positive.

    So, in summary, a post AB world is slowly starting to take shape. Two key changes would dramatically accelerate the process:

    Make teat dip readily available by removing bureaucratic roadblocks
    Provide farmers with direct feedback on milk quality
    These would make the road to reduced AB usage much, much easier.




  3. Really great to see your results…in fact I think we are sailing on same boat towards the new green we will surely visit your location and try to contribute in your all development which are actually going for human welfare


  4. Emphasis here is mainly on milk … But the same is true for other edible products and medicines derived from live-stock industry. The FSSAI should develop sufficient infrastructures to detect, monitor and control.


  5. Transdisciplinary university in Banglore is doing a great job in this field. They conduct workshop and trainings on reduction of antibiotics by intervening with ayurveda


  6. Are u sure Ayurveda works in ruminants? I m yet to see in scientific evidence to prove the plant extracts in rumen remains intact. Herbal or ayurveda medicines given orally to ruminant is physiologically irrational.


  7. Manohar Reddy MedaOctober 4, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    There is an absolute need to notify any edible items against such contamination. We are promoting the nature of contamination in human beings.


  8. Manohar Reddy MedaOctober 4, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    People above the age of 5 need not drink milk. Even if they drink it’s more of harm than healthy. They have to milk based products as curd, ghee, cheese and buttermilk.


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