The U.S. Food and Drug Administration knows the U.S. dairy industry has a drug problem. While only 7.7% of beef animals slaughtered are dairy cows, 67% of drug residue violations come from dairy cows, confirms FDA's Deborah Cera.
Dairy farmers are beef producers when they sell cull cows or bull calves to market, notes Dave Rhoda, veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. The drug residue problem arises when producers don't follow protocols and standard procedures for drug withdrawal. Rhoda offers several examples.
While Benamine's label requires intravenous injection, it's often given incorrectly in the muscle. Intramuscular treatment results in a much longer withdrawal time before the tissues no longer have a residue.
Producers using penicillin often give higher, extra-label dosages without extending the withdrawal time. Even drugs having short milk withhold times have meat withhold times that producers may not be aware of. Naxcel, for instance, has a four-day withdrawal.
Concern over inadequate drug residue testing by European Union officials has spurred FDA to begin testing. According to Cera, EU wants additional testing for drug residues and other compounds – the same as what they require of EU members.
Testing, testing, now testing
That's why FDA's milk and meat residue survey project is now underway. The residue survey involves collecting nearly 2,000 universal milk samples at central milk testing laboratories: 900 milk samples from dairy producers with a cull dairy cow tissue residue violation, and another 900 random milk samples.
FDA will have the samples blinded at the central laboratories, then shipped to the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) at Illinois Institute of Technology. The samples will then be shipped to FDA laboratories for analysis.
The milk samples will be tested for about 30 antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory drug residues which may include the following: Ampicillin, Cephapirin, Cloxacillin, Penicillin G, Erythromycin, Tylosin, Ciprofloxacin, Sarafloxacin, Chlortetracycline, Oxytetracycline, Tetracycline, Doxycycline, Sulfachloropyridazine, Sulfadiazine, Sulfamerazine, Sulfadimethoxine,Sulfamethazine, Sulfaquinoxaline, Sulfathiazole, Tripelennamine,Thiabendazole, Pirlimycin, Flunixin, Bacitracin, Virginiamycin, Tilmicosin, Neomycin, Gentamicin, Florfenicol, Chloramphenicol and Tulathromycin.National Milk Producers Federation officials anticipate that the sampling and laboratory analysis will take about one year. You can download NMPF's Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Manual by clicking here .