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Scientists urge tighter control on farms after antibiotic findings

Mar 20. 2019
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By The Nation

SCIENTISTS are urging the government to crack down on fish farms after tests found high levels of antibiotic contamination in pangasius on sale in Thailand.

More commonly known as dory or pla sawai, pangasius is popular with Thai consumers. 

The research earlier this year by Thammasat and Mahidol universities found that 25 per cent of dory fish-meat samples were contaminated with antibiotic residues above the World Health Organisation (WHO) safe limit.

Thailand annually imports 11,000 kilograms of the fish from regional neighbours, notably Vietnam, to meet the per-capita demand for an average 30 kilos of dory yearly, said Professor Chongrak Polprasert of Thammasat University, who a member of the research team. 

Chongrak said many farmers are dosing their fish with antibiotics to prevent disease. 

The improper use of such medicines, coupled with lax law enforcement, can lead to antibiotic residues that may be harmful to consumers. 

“Even boiling or frying the fish might not get rid of the contamination,” he said.

The 100 dory test samples were randomly collected from piers, airports and shops, according to Thammasat researcher Warunsak Liamlaem. Twenty-five of the samples were found to contain antibiotic residues beyond the WHO’s safe limit of 200 micrograms per kilo of fish meat, Warunsak said.

Prolonged exposure to high levels of antibiotic residues in meat and other foods can cause people |to become resistant to life-saving drugs. 

Drug resistance is a key health issue in Thailand, each year claiming about 38,000 lives and causing 700,000 cases of illness that result in Bt50 billion in damage to the economy, he said.

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