Global fast food companies do not have any India-specific commitments to eliminate the misuse of antibiotics in their meat supply chains.

This is despite the companies having made “ambitious, specific and time-bound” commitments in the US and other countries, says a study released on Monday by the Centre of Science & Environment (CSE), as ‘World Antibiotic Awareness Week’ kicks in.

Led by the WHO, World Antibiotic Awareness Week is being observed worldwide between November 13 and 19 this year.

CSE, which assessed the India-specific plans of global giants such as KFC, Burger King, Domino’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway, said it found these firms adopting ‘double standards’, as no commitments were made for India.

“With chicken-based food a big part of their menu, the growing fast food industry is possibly a big contributor to rising antimicrobial resistance (AMR),” said the study.

“Fast food multinational companies have come out in the open and shown commitment to stop antibiotic misuse in the US and other countries, but have not taken any concrete steps in India. They do not seem to care about the Indian consumer and are not keen to cut down on their contribution to the rising AMR in this country,” said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE, a Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation.

“McDonald’s, which has over 300 outlets in India and is very popular, especially among kids, has no plans of eliminating even the ‘highest priority critically important antibiotics’ in India at least for the next 10 years,” said Bhushan. “These antibiotics are extensively used in India and must be preserved for human use. The company plans to stop using these in many countries by 2019. However, it did not respond to our queries in India.”

CSE said it sought responses from 11 foreign multinationals and three India-based brands to understand their plans and policies for eliminating antibiotic misuse in their meat supply chains, which includes sourcing chicken, fish or other meat.

“Seven multinational brands and one Indian brand did not respond to us at all. While some others shared their practices of sourcing and testing, they did not specify any timelines by which they planned to eliminate antibiotic misuse,” said Amit Khurana, Head, Food Safety and Toxins programme, CSE.

Calling for “time-bound India-specific commitments” by these companies to eliminate routine antibiotic use for growth promotion and disease prevention in their supply chains for chicken, fish and other meat, CSE said following in the footsteps of their global counterparts, the companies should ensure third-party supply chain audits, laboratory testing for antibiotic residues and resistant bacteria and documentation of antibiotic use, and commit to making these reports public.