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CSE Names And Shames Multinational Fast Food Giants For 'Double Standards' in Antibiotics Use
Food & Health  

New Delhi: Food at your favourite multinational fast food giant like McDonald’s, Taco Bell or Domino’s are probably a lot safer in the United States and Europe than in India.

 

According to a new study, faced with such double standards, India is at a risk of rising resistance to antibiotics. Yet fast food majors continue to follow different standards of antibiotic use at their poultries in the West and those in India, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said on Monday. 
 
The study, released for the ‘World Antibiotic Awareness Week’, examines the use of antibiotic fed chicken, meat and fish by these fast food giants.
 
In a report titled ‘Double Standards: Antibiotic Misuse by Fast Food Companies’, CSE has examined the policies and practices concerning antibiotic misuse at the Indian outlets of 11 global fast food companies. Some of the fast food chains that have been named are McDonald's, Subway, Pizza Hut, KFC, Domino's, Dunkin Donuts along with three Indian companies — Barista, Cafe Coffee Day and Nirula’s. 
 
According to experts, antibiotics in low doses fatten animals with less feed and fast food brands across the world have committed to phase out poultry, meat and fish that are fed antibiotics for disease prevention. 
 
For the western nations implementation of these policies are “aggressive, specific and time-bound”, yet, it is absent in India, says CSE.
 
At a global scale, says Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s Deputy Director General, an estimated 80 percent of antibiotics are used with minimal regulation on animals and 20 percent for humans. 
 
This, especially in India, has led to a rise of drug resistant diseases like tuberculosis and UTI. Crucial antibiotics listed by the World Health Organisation are also losing efficacy.
 
Bhushan says his team has written to all of these 14 companies asking three questions: Did the organisation have a policy on sourcing fish and chicken meat raised using antibiotics? How did they plan to implement it? And in case of a policy absence, will they formulate any?
 
As major buyers of poultry, a change in their practices and better safety norms could change the market and force intensive poultry farms and suppliers to raise birds without antibiotics.
 
The 11 companies that the CSE has posed these questions to, are yet to reply, including Delhi’s favourite eating joint, Nirula’s. 
 
McDonald’s, which has promised to eliminate the highest priority critically important microbials (CIAs) in the United States and Europe, have no such goals for India and is yet to respond to CSE’s report. 
 
Neither has Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC replied, nor has Starbucks made any clarification so far. 
 
According to the research body, Subway, which eliminated the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in the US by 2016, has given the best response so far. 
 
They have told CSE that the chicken and lamb meat they use are tested for antibiotics residue. The American fast food giant has further said that their policy was to use drugs to treat, control and prevent disease, not for growth. 
 
The environment research body claims that this is a loophole as antibiotics are used for other purposes too. CSE has demanded to know all the norms that prevent all non-therapeutic use of antibiotics, until there actually is a disease to be treated.
 
Domino’s and Burger King has also responded, but without time-bound commitments and test and audit results.
 
Barista has, meanwhile, assured CSE that they are abiding by the norms set out by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). However, the FSSAI has no regulations on antibiotic misuse in poultry. According to CSE, the food authority’s plans to set these norms are stuck in the pipeline for many years now.
 
The closest that these global companies have come to slowdown antibiotic resistance in the region is their implementation of policies in China by 2020. However, Bhushan says India, which is already facring a threat of rising antibiotic resistance (ABR) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), is not a priority for these companies.

 
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New blood pressure guidelines put half of U.S. adults in unhealthy range
Food & Health  
news18

First major update since 2003 aims to spur heart-healthy lifestyle changes

 

ANAHEIM, Calif.  — Nearly half of U.S. adults now have high blood pressure, thanks to a new definition of what constitutes high: 130/80 is the new 140/90. That means that 103 million people — about 14 percent more than under the old definition — need to make diet and exercise changes and, in some cases, take medication to lower their risk of heart attack or stroke.
 
These new blood pressure guidelines, the first major update since 2003, were announced November 13 at the American Heart Association’s annual scientific sessions and published in Hypertension and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
 
“It’s very clear that lower is better,” said Paul Whelton of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, lead author of the guidelines, at a news conference. Previous studies have linked low blood pressure with low risk of cardiovascular disease (SN: 10/17/15, p. 6). The updated recommendations “will improve the cardiovascular health of our adult community in the United States,” Whelton said.
 
A blood pressure reading measures the systolic pressure, or how much force the blood places on the walls of the arteries when the heart beats, and the diastolic pressure, the same force but when the heart rests between beats.
 
Numbers jump
Although the new definition of high blood pressure means more cases for adults across all ages, it’s expected to triple the prevalence of the disease among men under 45 and double the prevalence for women that age. Previously, systolic pressures from 120 to 139 millimeters of mercury and diastolic pressures from 80 to 89 were considered to be prehypertension, putting a person at risk for high blood pressure in the future. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, was diagnosed once a patient hit 140 over 90. The old definition placed about one in three U.S. adults in that category.
 
Under the new guidelines, patients with systolic pressures under 120 and diastolic pressures under 80 are still considered to have normal blood pressure. About 42 percent of U.S. adults fall in this category. But those with a systolic reading of 120 to 129 and diastolic pressures less than 80 are now classified as having elevated blood pressure. Just over 12 percent fall in that category.
 
Hypertension — now diagnosable in 46 percent of U.S. adults — occurs when a patient has a blood pressure reading of 130 over 80 or higher. Some who were previously considered to have prehypertension have now been placed firmly in the hypertension category.
 
“People with blood pressure levels between 130 and 140 are at about twice the risk of heart attack and stroke as people with normal levels,” says David Goff of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md., who was not involved with developing the guidelines. The new definition for high blood pressure “really highlights the importance of preventing high blood pressure in the first place.”
 
Lifestyle changes are recommended for those with elevated as well as high blood pressure. For those in the first stage of hypertension, 130 to 139 over 80 to 89, whether drugs are also prescribed will depend on if patients have ever had a heart attack or stroke or if their future risk is greater than 10 percent in the next 10 years. The new guidelines are not expected to open the floodgates to treating hypertension medically. About 4 million more U.S. adults are projected to require medication, or 1.9 percent more than was recommended in the older guidelines, said Robert Carey of the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, a coauthor of the new guidelines.
 
“This is a new approach for blood pressure management,” says Goff, which “will help target the medication to the people who stand to benefit the most.” Most importantly, “we really need to redouble our efforts to improve our diets” and increase physical activity, he adds. “Small changes are important — you don’t need to make big changes all at once.”

 
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