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FDA Reports Continued Decrease of Residues in Raw Milk

Feb 19, 2010

Only 0.026 percent of all truckloads of raw milk tested positive for medicinal animal drug residues in fiscal year 2009 according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recently released National Milk Drug Residue Database (NMDRD) results. This low level - one in 3,846 truckloads - is a decrease of seven percent over 2008 findings in this voluntary reporting program that includes state, FDA and dairy industry data.

The U.S. dairy industry tests every truckload of raw milk prior to use. All truckloads of raw milk testing positive for any drug residue are disposed of and not used to produce food for human consumption. The amount of milk disposed of in fiscal year 2009 was a 13 percent reduction from 2008 and a 58 percent reduction since 2007.

"Stronger on-farm animal care programs and intense testing at the dairy plant are continuing to show impressive decreases in the FDA-sponsored NMDRD database testing results for medicinal animal drug residues," said Allen Sayler, IDFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. "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."

Overall, 3.9 million samples were analyzed. In addition, more than 45,000 finished dairy products were tested, which is a four percent increase in testing from 2008. No finished dairy products were found to contain animal drug residues. A total of 50 US states and territories submitted data, with Rhode Island, a very small dairy state being the only hold-out.

The 2009 NMDRD analysis also noted a sizable increase in testing for the enrofloxacin and sulfonamide drug family from the 2008 report. This year's data included tests for 10 different groups or individual animal drugs and 26 different testing methods.

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.

Full NMDRD reports can be viewed at For more information, contact Sayler at 202-220-3544 or

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