Rome, 24 January -- The UN Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) has suggested that countries
should take steps to stop the use of chloramphenicol in food
production. In a statement issued today, FAO said that
chloramphenicol is a broad-spectrum antibiotic used in human and
pet animal medicine, and it is still being applied in some
countries in animal production, including
FAO's comment was made in relation to the recent
food scare from chloramphenicol residues in animal feed.
Most countries have banned chloramphenicol
for use in food animal production, FAO said.
Chloramphenicol has been evaluated several times by an
internationally recognized scientific committee, the Joint
FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). The
Committee concluded that the compound is genotoxic, which means
it could cause genetic damages and possibly lead to cancer.
Chloramphenicol is also known to cause an
extremely serious disease in people called "aplastic
anemia". But the incidence of this disease is rare,
according to JECFA, and probably could not be attributed to
residues in food.
Based on this advice,
the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international body on
food standards, stated that because of the toxicity of
chloramphenicol a maximum residue limit cannot be established
and that the substance should therefore not be used in food
There are alternatives to the
use of chloramphenicol if the objective is to reduce bacterial
contamination, FAO said. The UN agency recommended that all
countries should develop an effective risk management strategy,
based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System
(HACCP), to produce safer food. Effective controls require
vigilance throughout the food chain, from the producer to the
In the case of aquaculture, FAO
called upon countries to raise fish in a sustainable manner
applying good agricultural practices and, where necessary, the
prudent and responsible use of feed ingredients and veterinary
drugs that have shown to be safe.
that developing countries need assistance to improve their ways
of agricultural production, veterinary services and food
control. This would require considerable capacity building with
assistance from donor countries.
help of experts from around the world FAO has trained government
employees, veterinarians and staff of the feed and food
industries. There is further need for training in laboratory
procedures, surveillance and inspection, as well as the
implementation of HACCP throughout the production process, FAO
said. National Competence Centres should be developed in each
country for the prevention of food-borne diseases and