After Dairy Herd Management learned in November from an FDA official that any residues found would be at very low levels, (READ: Get ready for the good news to be skewed on milk drug residues), we waited for the complete results.

Thursday morning, they came from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine with little fanfare, and the preview shared last November stayed true. 

FDA tested two types of farms for 31 different drugs — “targeted” farms that had previously had drug residue violations, and “non-targeted” farms that were selected at random but not on the “targeted” list. 

The results in both categories were quite insignificant, though targeted farms had higher residue levels:

 

Targeted Farms

Non-targeted farms

Farms tested

953

959

Residues found

12

4

Farms on which residue was found

11

4

Percent violative

1.15%

0.42%

UPDATED 3/6/15: These numbers are also slightly higher than results released in February 2015, showing that 0.014% of raw bulk milk pickups resulted in residues of those drugs for which tests are regularly conducted. 

“This report proves that America’s dairy farmers are delivering on our commitment to providing safe and wholesome milk to consumers, while working closely with state and federal regulators to continually improve the safety of our products,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said in a release. “Dairy farmers have a strong track record of compliance with state and federal milk safety regulations, and we support education and enforcement efforts to further strengthen that record.”

According to the survey results, “The PMO currently only requires bulk milk pickup tankers to be tested for the presence of at least four of six specific Beta-lactam drugs (penicillin, ampicillin, amoxicillin, cloxacillin, cephapirin, and ceftiofur); none of the confirmed non-Beta lactam drug residues identified in this milk survey are currently required to be routinely tested for under the PMO for Grade “A” milk and milk products.”

Of the 16 found drug residues on 15 farms, 10 of the violations were for Florfenicol (NuFlor®), detected on all 4 non-targeted farms and 6 of the targeted farms. NuFlor®, manufactured by Merck Animal Health, is labeled to treat three bacterial causes of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) and foot rot. However, it is not labeled for use in cattle of breeding age or cattle 20 months or older.

 

 

Labeled for use in cattle?

Labeled for lactating cattle?

Number of violations in FDA survey

Florfenicol (NuFlor®)

Yes

No, extralabel only

 

10

Tulathromycin (Draxxin®)

Yes

No, extralabel only

2

Tilmicosin (Micotil®)

Yes

No, extralabel only

1

Gentamicin

Yes

No, extralabel only

1

Sulfamethazine

No

No

1

Ciprofloxacin

No

No

1

Total

 

 

16

“Merck Animal Health does not support or condone the off-label use of any of its products,” the company said in a statement to Dairy Herd Management. “Approved by the FDA, florfenicol is labeled for the treatment of bovine respiratory disease associated with Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, Histophilus somni, and Mycoplasma bovis in beef and non-lactating dairy cattle. It is not approved for use in lactating dairy cattle.” 

As a responsible animal health company, Merck Animal Health also developed and implemented a residue prevention training program for dairy operations. Through this program, dairy workers are educated about this important topic, and are provided the tools and practical solutions to help prevent residues. The training program is easily accessed online (http://www.nuflorgold.com/) and is available in English and Spanish.”

Requests for comment from other cited manufacturers were not immediately returned.