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Dairy Facts 2016

Thorough FDA Program Continues to Find Few Antibiotics in Milk

Apr 02, 2007

Thorough FDA Program Continues to Find Few Antibiotics in Milk

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released the fiscal year 2006 National Milk Drug Residue Database (NMDRD) results, which found that only 0.038% of all truckloads of raw milk tested positive for medicinal animal drug residues between October 2005 and October 2006. This low level matched the previous year's results, which were the lowest recorded since the monitoring program began in the mid-1990s.

"The program continues to confirm the U.S. dairy industry's strong record of success in keeping antibiotic residues out of the U.S. milk supply, which reached almost 182 billion pounds in 2006," said Allen Sayler, IDFA senior director of regulatory affairs.

Under the FDA monitoring program, state regulatory agencies collect data on every truckload of raw milk tested for drug residues; more than 3.4 million samples were analyzed from October 2005 to October 2006. The U.S. dairy industry tests every truckload of raw milk prior to use. If a truckload tests positive, the entire load of milk is disposed of, never entering the food supply. In addition, the FDA report identifies 45,000 tests of dairy products and over 627,000 tests of individual dairy producer's raw milk.

"The program of testing every truckload of raw milk and disposing of those testing positive is very successful in maintaining confidence in dairy products and in the dairy industry," said Sayler.

Antibiotics are not routinely used on dairy cows in the milking herd. 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 can lead to residues in the raw milk supply. Testing of all truckloads is designed to catch these rare occurrences.

The dairy industry began this comprehensive program in cooperation with state and federal regulators in the early 1990s to ensure that raw milk containing drug residues did not enter the human food chain. The NMDRD was officially established in the mid-1990s to track the progress of this industry effort.

Data for the annual NMDRD report is obtained from reports provided by the dairy industry, state regulators and FDA. Full NMDRD reports can be viewed at For more information, contact Sayler at 202-220-3544 or

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Posted April 2, 2007

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