Myths / Q&A

Antibiotics


1. Introduction

Consumers are concerned that antibiotic residues in poultry meat are harmful to their health. In South Africa, legislation stipulates maximum residual levels (MRL) which we at Astral strictly comply with. Simply put, this is about the timeous withdrawal of antibiotics from live chickens prior to slaughter, in order to comply with regulations.

Internationally, it is an accepted practice in poultry production to administer antibiotics for the control and treatment of specific conditions. This humane practice enhances bird health, reduces stress, pain and suffering. In so doing, the consumer is assured of purchasing a safe, quality product.

2. Background

In essence, antibiotics are naturally produced by micro-organisms to eliminate or inhibit growth of other micro-organisms. Micro-organisms occur naturally, everywhere! That is, in soil, water and in the air, as well as inside of the body (intestines and urinary tract) and on the outside (skin, feathers, hair, etc.) of both animals and man.

On the other hand, antibiotics prescribed for medicinal use are produced commercially in large quantities to be used in the control of bacterial diseases.

The use of antibiotics in South Africa is strictly regulated by the Medicines and Related Substances Act 101 of 1965 and the Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act 36 of 1947. In Astral, the use of antibiotics is strictly in line with these Acts, with due consideration of the health status of birds; post-mortem analysis by the veterinarian and laboratory testing of bacterial sensitivity to specific antibiotics. This practice ensures that only effective antibiotics are selected and administered.

3. Astral's Standard Practices

The correct withdrawal times are always adhered to by feeding a non-medicated ration for at least five days before scheduled slaughtering of the birds. Meat and liver samples from slaughtered chickens are regularly tested for antibiotic MRL as set out in terms of South African law. At Astral, the monitoring of MRL in chicken meat is conducted by independent accredited laboratories.