The Bulgarian Food Safety Agency Denies that Meat with Antibiotics Reaches Consumers
Bulgarian meat is among the most contaminated with antibiotics in the EU according to the seventh annual report of the European Medicines Agency on the sale of antibiotics for animals in 30 European countries in 2015. According to the report in Bulgaria, 1 kg of live weight averages 121 milligrams antibiotic, making it the eighth highest European antibiotic rating.
After this news circulated around agencies yesterday, the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA) did not comment but in the evening they came out with an official position that there is no excessive use of antibiotics in Bulgarian farms, that we do not provide prophylactic antibiotics to the animals, and that contaminated meat does not reach consumers at all. This position is understandable given that if the Bulgarian Food and Drug Administration acknowledges that Bulgarian meat is packed with medication there will be serious consequences for the agency itself, for the producers and hence for the market. There is a quarantine period for animal cleansing.
BFSA claims that European reports do not provide information on the actual use of antibiotics in animals, and the aim is to get an idea through the mathematical model of the quantities with which all animals can potentially be treated. The agency also explained that there is a statutory quarantine period after the use of antibiotics in which animals can not be slaughtered and products derived from them. The aim is to ensure that no residues of the medication used in food of animal origin are present. The animals must first be cleaned before the meat or their products are placed on the market. That's why the agency is monitoring every year and has only detected single deviations, says BFSA.
For three years, only four cases of pollution have been captured by BSAW while 532 samples were tested in 2015. A non-compliant sample of beehive found to be sulphathiazole was found. A total of 521 samples were tested in 2016. Three non-compliant duck meat samples showing tetracycline were found. By 30 September 2017, a total of 290 samples were tested for the presence of antibacterial substances. No inconsistent samples were found for the presence of antibacterial substances in foods and raw materials of animal origin, reported by BFSA. Administrative measures have been taken for all violations, but it does not specify what exactly.
The report recognizes that in the fight against antimicrobial resistance in Bulgaria there are changes in the legislation, which tighten the control over the use and the release of antibiotics. For example, the maximum number of antibiotics that can be included in a prescription, the maximum amount of each antibiotic that can be purchased, and the maximum duration of its use is set. In Bulgaria the use of tetracyclines, penicillins, macrolides, sulphonamides, fluoroquinolones is greatest. The main conclusion of the report is that overall the use of antibiotics in farms in Europe has declined, but some countries including Bulgaria due to changes in reporting in previous years have provided inaccurate data and therefore the interpretation should be careful. In many countries with low antibiotic use, such as Norway, for example, the decision to limit the consumption of antibiotics by animals was taken more than 20 years ago, as is clear from EMA's data.
According to the "Active Consumers" organisation - antibiotics are given prophylactically in order to prevent infections and accelerate the growth of animals, farms are insured and even small animals are given antibiotics, even healthy animals. "These drugs are formulated to treat ever-deadly bacterial diseases, but for years they have been useless for prevention and prophylaxis of infections." In short, "the food we consume is produced with large amounts of antibiotics, and the end product contains residuals" say from "Active Consumers".
Farmers, however, deny applying uncontrolled antibiotics and state that their production is checked every day and is not bought if it is contaminated.
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