FDA study shows extremely low rate of drug residues in milk

WASHINGTON—A study of the U.S. milk supply by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows little evidence of drug residues in milk.

The study surveyed test results from nearly 2,000 farms. The agency was looking for traces of 31 different drugs, most of them antibiotics that are unapproved for use in lactating dairy cows; any amount found constituted a violation. Results showed a violative residue rate of less than 1 percent.

“This study proves what we’ve said all along—that the milk supply in the United States is safe,” said Tony Banks, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing specialist. “Of the milk sampled at the farm, 99.2 percent tested free of residue. Previous FDA studies have shown zero violations in milk samples collected at retail.”

Farmers are required to follow drug labels for dosage and withdrawal periods prior to milking a cow or sending the milk or animal to market, Banks said. Milk routinely is sampled before it leaves a farm and several more times before being bottled.

“A positive test for drug residue anywhere in the process will result in the milk being disposed of, and the violating farm will be financially responsible for all the dumped milk and risk losing their Grade A permit. It is in the dairy farmer's best interest to ship high-quality and residue-free milk.”

Media: Contact Banks at 804-290-1114.

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