IDFA and others in the dairy industry learned last week about new European Commission residue-sampling requirements that could have a damaging impact on the export of dairy products to the European Union. In response, IDFA joined the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council in sending a letter to the secretary of agriculture and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration to voice their concerns and to recommend measured steps for rectifying the situation.
Representatives from IDFA, NMPF and USDEC met last Tuesday with FDA officials to discuss an October 2010 audit by the E.U.'s Food and Veterinary Office regarding U.S. compliance with E.U. requirements for drug residues in animals and animal products. The dairy industry representatives learned that U.S. government officials received the audit results in January, along with recommendations for additional drug residue monitoring. They also learned that U.S. officials had several subsequent conversations with E.U. officials before asking for industry input on a proposed compliance plan that was due in three days.
In the letter, IDFA, NMPF and USDEC cautioned against rushing to respond and called for industry representatives, the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shippers and other federal agencies to collaborate and consider the rationale for the demands for increased sampling.
"To the best of our knowledge, the E.U. has not conducted any testing of U.S. dairy products to show that increased residue sampling is warranted," the letter stated. "We also believe that involving the trade-focused agencies (like the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Foreign Agricultural Service at USDA) more heavily and conducting technical discussions with the E.U. Commission have not yet been fully exhausted and could prove fruitful."
IDFA invites members to participate in a conference call on Tuesday, September 6, 1:00–2:00 p.m. Eastern time, for an update on this issue, as well as FDA's proposed U.S. project to test for animal drug residues in milk and the E.U. health certificate concerns regarding somatic cell counts. To receive call-in information, contact Brian Fields, IDFA administrative assistant for regulatory affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members with questions may contact Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president, at email@example.com.