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Shakeup in Thai poultry industry as human health fears grow

Antimicrobial resistance could spread in Asia as meat-production surges

A poultry farm in Thailand (Photo courtesy of Betagro Group)

BANGKOK -- The fresh meat counter at a supermarket in Ari, a wealthy Bangkok neighborhood, has a new crop of signs to reassure customers eyeing trays laden with pink chicken parts. "Our chicken is health conscious," the pink and white signs tell shoppers, backed up by blue and white stickers asserting that the products, supplied by Betagro, Thailand's second largest poultry supplier, have been "raised without antibiotics."

The supermarket messages reflect growing concerns about the consequences for human health of the widespread use of antimicrobial drugs as aids to production in the food industry. Betagro's decision to stop the routine use of antibiotics is intended to protect sales of the 140 million birds it produces annually.

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