Meat-lovers, beware

May 12, 2015 12:50 am 

By Ma. Cristina C. Arayata

MANILA, May 11, (PNA) – Meat-lovers, be cautious on what you eat.

In a forum organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL), it was noted that animals may have been treated with drugs (antibiotics) before they were slaughtered.

Antibiotics are also used in animals to treat and prevent bacterial infections, and these have greatly enhanced life expectancy in animals. However, when used improperly, antibiotic residues are deposited in animal tissues. Thus, you will find antibiotic residue-filled meat and meat products sold in the market.

Dr. Loinda Baldrias, dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, UP-LB, explained that antibiotic drug residues as small amounts that remain in animal products and make their way to the food chain.

Based on the World Food Programme’s Philippine Food and Nutrition Security Atlas of 2012, the Philippine livestock sector of 2010 accounted for 15.97% of the total agricultural output. William Padolina, NAST PHL president, said that this data shows the significant percentage contribution of livestock alone in agriculture.

There are many hazards in long-term consumption of these food animals and animal products on human health.

As such, alternative products for animal use, other than antibiotics, have been a subject of intense research for several years now. Speakers cited that there are pre and probiotics developed for this purpose.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food substances that selectively stimulate the growth of favorable species of bacteria in the gut. Probiotics, meanwhile, are live cultures of organisms supplemented in diets to improve the microbial balance in the gut.

Padolina said that both pre and probiotics are supplemented in the animals’ diets to promote overall production performance.

So what are the adverse effects of antibiotic residues?

According to Dr. Baldrias, toxicological effect can be acute. This is due to high doses, and this produces immediate toxicity. She cited that this may lead to damaged kidney, cranial nerve as well as damaged hearing.

It could also be chronic, which involves small doses repeatedly ingested, but this could build up to toxic level. Chronic toxicological effect may result to discolored teeth, allergic reactions and peripheral blood changes.

Moreover, Dr. Baldrias cited that there are also the immunological effects, which may result to skin rashes, asthmas attacks, among others.

She also noted that if antimicrobial multi-resistance is developed, “people can’t be effectively treated”, and this would also mean 60% increase mortality due to infectious agents. She added that there may be prolonged epidemics and greater risk of infection.

But why residues exist? Dr. Badrias said residues are there due to the following scenarios:

— When animal raisers give medication without availing veterinary services

— improper dosing

— non-observance of withdrawal period

— emergency slaughter of treated animals

— intensification of livestock production increasing susceptibility and risk of disease outbreaks

— common practice of long-term preventive use of subtherapeutic concentrations of drugs

What can we do?

In an interview with the Philippines News Agency (PNA), Dr. Baldrian said there is no way for us to know if the meat we’re going to buy has taken lots of antibiotics or has antibiotic residue. She recommended, however, that we buy from reliable sources.

She shared that in a study she conducted , she found out that there are more backyard raisers who had chicken produce that tested positive for antibiotic residues, compared to commercial producers.

“I actually thought commercial producers will produce the higher number that will test positive, because they have the money,” she admitted. She realized that maybe it’s because commercial producers are more informed of the guidelines, compared to background raisers. “There needs to have an awareness campaign; and much things need to be done in the monitoring aspect, too,” she highlighted.

She also noted that people will not feel whether they have consumed a meat with antibiotic residues, since the effect is long-term.

“It might take years before a person gets sick because of it,” she explained. Furthermore, the person will not be able to track what had caused his/her illness.

Based on another study that she conducted with colleagues, they found out that antibiotic residues pose higher health risks to the younger and older age groups. (PNA)

FPV//MCCA/EDS

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