CDQAP Ruminations: Prevention of Drug Residues in Meat & Milk

 Residue Avoidance Quick Reference Tools:cow_lab testingbackground

“How To” Video to Prevent Residues

8 Common Causes of Residues

Q & A on FDA’s Recent Milk Sampling Project

NMPF’s Residue Prevention Manual  (In Spanish)

Highlights: What you Need to Know About Drug Residues:

  • Both regulatory agencies and processors have increased drug residue testing of bulk tank milk.
  • Having a medication residue detected in the tissues of a culled cow or bob veal carcass should prompt a review of a dairy’s treatment practices, since the same errors that lead to tissue residues can also result in milk residues.
  • The most common reason for the occurrence of milk and tissue residues is failure to follow the label withdrawal time or, if the drug is being used off-label, to obtain and follow a veterinarian’s extended withdrawal time.
  • The easiest way to prevent milk and tissue residues from becoming a problem is for a producer to collaborate with the herd veterinarian in performing a comprehensive review of the dairy’s treatment and record keeping practices.

Recent Focus on Drug Residues in Milk & Dairy Beef

FDA graphic

Because dairies market both milk and beef from cows and veal calves, food safety remains a complex, yet critical daily function for producers. Recent events have focused regulatory, processor and public attention on prevention of drug residues in milk and dairy beef, offering an opportunity for producers to review their livestock treatment practices. A streamlined medication program can reduce drug costs, improve treatment response and minimize the chance that a carcass or a tanker will be condemned for residues.

In December of 2010 the federal Food and Drug Administration announced its intention to examine the question of whether producers who had a history tissue residues where also at higher risk of having milk residues. After a year of logistical and laboratory preparation, sampling of bulk tanks began in January of 2012 and the final report is pending release.  More detailed information on the FDA’s bulk tank sampling assignment can be found in this Question and Answer document titled Q & A on FDA’s Recent Milk Sampling Project.

In response to both regulatory and customer awareness, some milk processors in California have also increased milk tanker testing beyond the penicillin class to include the sulfa and tetracycline families as well. This webpage will help serve as one-stop-shopping for resources helping producers prevent residue problems.

Getting Started: Quick References Producers & Employees

The most common reason for the occurrence of milk and tissue residues is failure to follow the label withdrawal time or, if the drug is being used off-label, failure to follow a veterinarian’s extended withdrawal time.

Dairyman Ted PicAnything that interferes with adhering to either a label or veterinarian’s withdrawal time increases the risk of milk or meat residues. This includes poor cattle identification, treatments given but not recorded and not obtaining a veterinarian’s extended withdrawal time for off label treatment.

Producers who want to refresh themselves about drug use regulations should view an excellent video from the UC Cooperative Extension titled “How To” Video to Prevent Residues. The video is only 15 minutes long and was filmed on California dairies.

milktanker picAnother quick reference for producers is a one-page fact sheet titled 8 Common Causes of Residues which covers some of the most common mistakes which can lead to carcass residues.

For more in-depth information the national Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (F.A.R.M.) program has produced the comprehensive Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention manual. The sixty page manual covers background information,

NMPF Residue Prevention Manualwithdrawal times for approved dairy medications, information on milk and urine screening tests, and template forms. The manual is also available in Spanish.

The Best Answer: Getting the Herd Veterinarian Involved

With so many different treatments, illnesses and animals to be treated on a dairy, medication programs can be complex. The single most effective action a producer can take to prevent residue problems is t engage a veterinarian in a review the dairies drug management program. Together the producer and veterinarians can:

  • Review laboratory culture data to prescribe the most cost-effective treatments.
  • Create an inventory of cost-effective drugs, keeping high-risk drugs off the farm.
  • Help with employee training on proper administration and record keeping.
  • Create extended withdrawal times for drugs used off-label.

Related to extended withdrawal times for extra-label treatments, your veterinarian can access the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank, a free university service which utilizes the best scientific data to make sure extended withdrawal times are adequate.