Through a notification dated 31 December 2018 the FSSAI has extended the date of compliance of the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins, and Residues) Second Amendment Regulation, 2018 related to tolerance limit of antibiotics and pharmacology active substances in foods of animal origin, like meat/meat products, poultry, fish, and milk.
Through the second amendment, the notification includes new tolerance limits for 103 antibiotics and veterinary drugs in meat/meat products (including poultry and fish) and milk. Among the new provisions, tolerance limits for 76 antibiotics (These are either prohibited or not-intended for use in food-producing animals) have been specified at 0.01 mg/kg of the listed food and largely reflects the level of detection of such antibiotics/drugs by existing method of analysis.
There were also revisions to the prohibited list of antibiotics and veterinary drugs applicable to meat and meat products, and poultry and eggs, seafood including shrimps, prawns or any variety of fish and fishery products. The Extraneous Maximum Residue Limit of 0.001 mg/kg will be applicable except for Chloramphenicol for which it will be 0.0003 mg/Kg. This means that mere detection of these antibiotics in the food is unacceptable from the food safety point of view.
Uncontrolled presence of residues of antibiotics and other drugs in food, as a result of their use in food-producing animals, has the potential to pose a threat to human health and also lead to the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among disease-causing bacteria. Therefore, the revised/ new provisions pertaining to the tolerance limits of antibiotics and veterinary drugs were amended so that they could be in alignment with the international best practices. They are intended to address the food safety concerns in foods of animal origin, whether consumed domestically or in the countries of export.
As per the Gazette Notification of 20 July 2018, a transition period of five months up to 1 January 2019 had been given to Food Business Operators to comply with the ‘tolerance limits of antibiotics mentioned in the amendment regulation. However, the FSSAI has received representations from various stakeholders in which they have highlighted some important technical issues. Therefore, the FSSAI has extended the timeline for the compliance of these regulations to 1 April 2019, or till further order, whichever is earlier.