Antibiotic Colistin Banned As Animal Feed

Animal Feed

In News

The Union Health Ministry has banned the use of Colistin in the animal food industry.


  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has passed orders prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, sale, and usage of colistin and its formulations for food-producing animals.
  • Colistin is a last-resort antibiotic that is being used rampantly in aqua, poultry, and other animal-based food industries.
  • This unchecked usage of the antibiotic has lead to rising in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans.
  • The antibiotic is used as a growth supplement in the food industry.
  • With the ban, AMR will be reduced in the country.

The Orders

  • The order came a month after the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), the apex drug advisory body to the government, called for banning the drug in animal feed.
  • As per the orders of the Ministry, labels should be affixed on the Colistin container used for human use stating that it is not to be used as feed for animals, poultry or in aquaculture. 

The Research

  • In 2018, researchers from Apollo Cancer Hospital and Christian Medical College, Vellore have found colistin-resistant bacteria in samples of raw food collected across Chennai. This raised an alarm in the medical fraternity.
  • As colistin is a last-resort antibiotic, bacteria becoming resistant to it will lead to more prolonged illness.

Cheering The Order

  • Across the country, the medical fraternity is welcoming the move as it will drastically reduce AMR in the country.
  • Usage of any drug in excess will lead to the development of resistance to the drug by the bacteria. Thus usage of colistin as a growth enhancer in the animals will lead to its usage only in therapy and AMR development will be reduced.

Shortage of New Antibiotics

The world is in a desperate search for new antibiotics to thwart the threat of AMR. But the results are not coming soon. We have to wait for some more time before new antibiotics are available at commercial scale. Till that time, measures such as this (banning) will help reduce the development of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

AMR is threatening the world health security that humanity has built painstakingly over the centuries. Definite measures such as this have to be taken for the common good of the people across the world. By banning the drug in animal feed, India has shown to the world how to tackle a public health issue of major concern.

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