A Review on Antibiotics Residue in Foods of Animal Origin

Review Article

Austin J Vet Sci & Anim Husb. 2022; 9(4): 1104.

A Review on Antibiotics Residue in Foods of Animal Origin

Tegegne Destaw¹ and Mengesha Ayehu²*

1Amhara Regional State Field Veterinarian Health Practitioner, Ethiopia

2Ethiopian Veterinary Drug and Feed Control and Administrative Authority, Ethiopia

*Corresponding author: Mengesha Ayehu, Ethiopian Veterinary Drug and Feed Control and Administrative Authority, Ethiopia

Received: August 25, 2022; Accepted: September 29, 2022; Published: October 06, 2022


Foods of animal origin (example meat, milk, and eggs) samples occasionally, contain excessive amounts of antibiotics drug residues. Usually these are a result of not observing the withdrawal period or from off-label use of an antibiotic. Tetracycline is the most predominantly prescribed antibiotic and of all antibiotic-associated residues, followed by β-lactames. Residues of amino glycosides, Macrolides, and sulfonamides have also been detected. Antibiotics have the potential to cause allergic reactions; penicillin is most commonly implicated, affecting up to 10% of people receiving these drugs therapeutically. Sulfonamides may cause allergic reactions in up to 3% of those using these drugs. Other antibiotics are implicated less often. Concentrations of residual veterinary drugs in foods are not high enough to cause an initial hypersensitive reaction but may cause such an effect in a person who has already become sensitized to the drug. The detection methods of veterinary drug residues in food animal origin constitute a dynamic area in food processing and these include microbiological, immuno-enzymatic and chemical methods. In general, withdrawal period of veterinary drugs must be respected after drugs or medicines have been administered to animals in order to prevent the occurrence of drug residues.

Keywords: Antibiotics; Drug Residues; Food of animal origin


Antibiotics are substances either produced naturally by living organisms or produced synthetically in the laboratory, and they are able to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms. They can be classified according to their effects as either bactericidal or bacteriostatic and also according to their range of efficacy as narrow or broad in spectrum [35]. Since the discovery and development of the first antibiotics prior to the Second World War, these drugs have played an important role in veterinary and human medicine [17]. Today, antibiotics are used to control, prevent, and treat infection and to enhance animal growth and feed efficiency Currently, approximately 80% of all food-producing animals receive medication for part or most of their lives. The most commonly used antimicrobials in food producing animals are the β-lactames, tetracycline, amino glycosides, lincosamides, Macrolides, and sulfonamides [35].

The use of antibiotics in food-producing animals may leave residues in foodstuffs of animal origin like meat, milk, and eggs [7]. Drug residue is either the parent compound or its metabolites that may accumulate, deposit or otherwise be stored within cells, tissues, organs or edible products (example milk, egg) of an animal following its use to control or treat animal disease [3]. The occurrence of these residues may be due to failure to observe the withdrawal periods, extra-label dosages for animals, contamination of animal feed with the excreta of treated animals, or the use of unlicensed antibiotics, incorrect route of administration and drugs used in species for which they are not intended [28].

Pathogenic microorganisms constitute the most important food related threat to public health and relatively, little is known about food safety in relation to antimicrobial agents. While pasteurization and other forms heat treatment eliminate pathogenic microgranisms from animal source food, these procedures have limited or variable effects on drug residues in animal originated food [33].

Antibiotic residues in foods of animal origin may be the cause of numerous health concerns in humans. These problems include toxic effects, induction of resistant strains of bacteria, immunopathological effects, carcinogenicity (e.g., sulphamethazine, oxytetracycline, and furazolidone), mutagenicity, nephropathy (e.g., gentamicin), hepatotoxicity, reproductive disorders, bone marrow toxicity (e.g., chloramphenicol) and allergy (e.g., penicillin) [38].

Internationally recognized organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Veterinary Medicine Directorate (VMD) of the European Union (EU) as well as the Food and Drug Administration in the USA (FDA) have set maximum tolerance levels or, Acceptable Daily Intake (ADIs) for humans and withholding times for pharmacologically active substances including antimicrobial agents prior to marketing (Al-Ghamdi et al., 2000). In Africa, in parallel to the incautious use of antibiotics in human medicine, agricultural sectors consume a large portion (50%) of antibiotics in animal farming. However, there is no clear regulation for controlling antibiotic contamination of feedstuffs [34].

Citation: Destaw T and Ayehu M. A Review on Antibiotics Residue in Foods of Animal Origin. Austin J Vet Sci & Anim Husb. 2022; 9(4): 1104.