Only 0.016 percent of all truckloads of raw milk tested positive for medicinal animal drug residues in fiscal year 2012, according to the Food and Drug Administration's recently released National Milk Drug Residue Database (NMDRD) results. The figure dropped from 0.021 percent last year.
The U.S. dairy industry tests every truckload of raw milk prior to use. All truckloads of raw milk testing positive for violative drug residues are disposed of and not used to produce food for human consumption. The amount of milk disposed of in fiscal years 2009 through 2012 continues a decline that began in fiscal year 2008, according to the NMDRD.
Dairy farmers and veterinarians use animal medicines under strict controls to treat sick dairy cattle. Treated cattle are removed from regular milk production and are not returned to the milking herd until their milk is free of any medicinal residues. When used according to label directions, medicines should not result in any residues in the milk. In rare instances, however, mix-ups in treatment records and animal identification at the dairy farm may lead to residues in the raw milk supply. Testing of all bulk milk trucks is designed to catch these rare occurrences.
This NMDRD annual report is separate from the current Animal Drug Residue Assignment that the Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Veterinary Medicine launched in January 2012. That assignment’s purpose is to determine if farms with previous animal drug residue violations found in dairy cattle at slaughter may be a result of farm management practices that could also lead to drug residues in milk. The results from the FDA/CVM assignment may be released as early as next month.
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