FAO for Global Ban on Chloramphenicol

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The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has recommended a global ban on the use of chloramphenicol, a broad spectrum antibiotic, in agriculture, animal husbandry and aquaculture.

Many countries have already stopped using this antibiotic, others are still allowing its use to combat bacterial infections in animals and fish. Chloramphenicol has been evaluated several times by an internationally recognised joint expert committee of the FAO and the World Health Organisation (WHO) on food additives.

It has concluded that the compound is genotexic, meaning that it could cause genetic disorders and possible lead to cancer. It is also known to cause an extremely serious disease in people called "aplastic anemia".

The FAO's plea has been supported by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international body that lays down quality standards for foods. Since a maximum residual limit for chloramphenicol toxicity cannot be established. it is better not to use this substance in food production, Codex maintains.

In any case, alternatives are available for chloramphenicol for fighting bacterial contamination, the FAO points out. Strategies for maintenance of animal and fish health should be based on hazard analysis and critical control point system to produce safer food, it suggests. Only those veterinary drugs that have already been proven to be safe should be used.


AIBA, Business Standard,
New Delhi, February 15 2002