The challenge of consuming beef with antimicrobial residue

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How dangerous are beef consumed in Nigeria? Researchers and veterinary experts in the country are at parallel decisions on this matter. According to study, about 1.3 million cattle are slaughtered for consumption in the country with majority of it coming from abattoirs and butchers houses across the country. For researchers and veterinary experts, the bone of contention is the danger pose by the antimicrobial residue in beef due to antibiotics and other drugs administered to cattle before taken to slaughter houses.

For the Veterinary doctors, the antimicrobial residue in beef is dangerous only if it is uncooked or semi-cooked. They believe that any beef that passes through intense heat poses no threat to consumers. “It is true that these residues are not good for human health, however, if such beef containing antimicrobial residue is well cooked, then the potency of harm to the consumer is neutralized.” This was the submission of Dr. Uche Anazodo, one of the health inspectors at the Deidei Abattoir in the Federal Capital Territory.

Researchers on the other hand are of the belief that consumption of beef containing higher concentration level of antimicrobial residues than the standard residue limit can result in severe consequences in human. A study carried out by Gabriel Omeiza in the Federal Capital Territory revealed that there were antimicrobial residues in 89.3% of kidney and urine samples from cattle slaughtered within Abuja town where residents rely heavily on beef as source of protein. This, the study said is a public health concern for majority of Abuja residents.

However, independent investigation by this medium revealed that the cause of the alarm by these researchers on the need to regulate drug administration on cattle close to slaughter for beef production is as a result of ‘suya’ consumption, especially in the FCT. Suya is a semi-cooked spiced beef consumed in various parts of the FCT.

“No matter the residue in beef, if it is properly cooked, it has no danger to consumers but where the danger lies is when it is not properly cooked. That is why we (Veterinary experts) advise the public to reduce the rate at which they consume suya and other meats that does not pass through fire thoroughly,” Anazodo said.

A visit to a ruga settlement revealed practical way to reduce consumption of beef with antimicrobial residue. Our correspondent who went in company of veterinary experts observed that when drugs are administered to cattle, such cattle are isolated for seven to twenty-one days to allow the drugs take effects and neutralize in the system of the cattle.

One of the experts explained that the reason for such isolation is to allow the administered drug neutralize in the system of such animal and reduce the antimicrobial residue in its system. “Anytime we come to this area, we always ensure that the cattle that are administered antibiotics and other drugs are isolated for close to 7-21 days to allow the drug take effect on the animals. When they are taken to slaughter house after the prescribed days, depending on the drug administered, then they will contain no antimicrobial residue,” Dr. Victoria Agada explained.

In spite this, researchers opined that there is also the need for the government to regulate the rate at which antibiotics and other drugs administered to these animals, especially those close to being slaughtered.

In line with this thought, the Federal Government established the National Antimicrobial Residue Technical Working Group. Although the NAMR-TWG will also focus on human consumption of antibiotics and other relevant areas, researchers like Omezie are optimistic that such effort from the government would reduce the danger posed by indiscriminate use of antibiotics and other drugs on cattle before taking to the slaughter house.

Investigation revealed that Nigeria through the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has also activated the National Reference Laboratory with over 20 laboratories across the country within the national network. These laboratories are also enrolled on the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System, though which the country contribute to the global response to AMR.

The Director General of the NCDC in a recent discussion with Journalists in the FCT advised that Nigerians should avoid the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in food animal production in order to avoid public health challenge arising from consuming beef containing high level of antimicrobial residue.

 

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