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ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee was stunned to know that there were chances of citizens consuming harmful drug residues along with poultry, meat, milk and eggs.

During the meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination on Tuesday, Pakistan Veterinary Medical Council Registrar Dr Alamdar Hussain Malik said farmers were giving ‘growth promoter’ drugs to animals and chickens.

He said there were chances that chicken containing heavy growth promoters and antibiotics were reaching the markets. He suggested strict regulations to stop the practice.

The meeting was chaired by MNA Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan.

Farmers not observing mandatory drug withholding period before slaughtering animals, experts say

Member Siraj Mohammad Khan said to increase the weight of animals, butchers also injected water in the animals after slaughtering them.

Dr Alamadar said because of two major reasons – foot and mouth disease and drug residues – Pakistan’s livestock export was very limited or near zero.

Farmers are not observing the mandatory five-day drug withholding period before slaughtering animals which leave drug residues in the meat, he said.

Poultry Research Institute Rawalpindi Director Dr Abdur Rehman said the Punjab Poultry Feed Act was in place under which strict monitoring was being carried out.

Later, talking to Dawn he claimed that owners of poultry farms stopped giving drugs to chicken five days before selling them to consumers.

He said under the Punjab Animals Feed Stuff and Compound Feed Act 2016, actions had been taken against those who were over-dozing chickens and using growth promoters against the law.

An official from the Animal Quarantine Department informed the committee that the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on a summary moved by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research had imposed a ban on commercial export of live animals since 2013.

He said the export of processed Halal meat to Muslims countries witnessed a quantum upsurge.

Pakistan earned $214.5 million from the export of processed/value-added meat during 2012-13 compared to $20 million on the export of live animals.

Dr Sher Mohammad from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Livestock Department told the committee that the provincial government was going to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Chinese company in livestock field.

Meanwhile, a representative of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) informed the committee that scholarships in agriculture and veterinary fields were open under all disciplines and there was no bar for candidates to apply under any selected field.

The committee also discussed the setting up of a permanent secretariat for the Council of Common Interest in Islamabad.

The committee was informed that the issue was going to be resolved at a cabinet meeting which was slated to be held on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2018