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FDA Activities

Cows in milking machines

Drug Residue Sampling Survey

The Food and Drug Administration drug residue sampling survey, initially proposed in 2010, began in January 2012. FDA aims to determine if farms with previous drug residue violations in market-bound meat from dairy cows have farm management practices that may lead to drug residues in milk.

The survey involves the collection of nearly 2,000 universal milk samples at central milk testing laboratories, with 900 milk samples from dairy producers with a previous violation for cull dairy cow tissue residue and another 900 random milk samples. The samples will be blinded, meaning they cannot be linked to a specific farm, co-op or plant. They will be tested for about 30 different antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory residues.

The sampling survey is expected to take at least 12 months to complete. IDFA and others in the dairy industry continue to work with FDA on concerns related to the testing methodology and the reporting of presumptive positive test results, which are likely to be confusing to consumers.

"IDFA is committed to eliminating violative residues in the milk supply and in any dairy product processed from that supply," said Jon Gardner, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards.

Listeria Regulations

There have been no significant outbreaks of listeriosis related to commercially-produced dairy products in this country in more than 20 years. Pasteurization kills Listeria. Improved testing and quality control in dairy plants has greatly reduced the risk of Listeria contamination.

Dairy plants use sophisticated processing and cleaning protocols to prevent contamination of Listeria monocytogenes and other pathogens. Dairy plants regularly test their plant environments and equipment for the presence of Listeria.

The dairy industry is often cited by other industries as a model for food safety. Strict quality control and regulatory oversight start at the farm level, and continue at the manufacturing plant with thorough testing and product safety measures.

Americans are fortunate that listeriosis remains rare. Nonetheless, it is important for sensitive populations to take some easy precautions to avoid the chance of foodborne illness.

It has long been recognized that sensitive populations, such as pregnant women and immuno-compromised individuals, should avoid drinking unpasteurized milk. They also should not eat soft fresh cheese such as feta, Brie and Camembert, soft blue-veined cheese, and "queso blanco," unless it is labeled as having been made from pasteurized milk.

FDA Revised Draft Guidance for Industry: Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-To-Eat Foods, (January 2017)

IDFA memo on FDA meetings re Listeria and recalls (Jan 24 2017)

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