Pilot program to test for antibiotics in milk

Federal and state food safety regulators are beginning a new pilot program to test milk for drug residue.

Chris Galen with National Milk Producers tells Brownfield the new milk test will examine hundreds of thousands of milk tanker loads for the tetracycline class of antibiotics and uses the same milk samples as existing tests.  “They’re rapid tests so you don’t have to hold the milk for long.  It’s a test that reacts very quickly to anything that might be there.”

Galen says the Food and Drug Administration already conducts thousands of spot checks for drug residues at the farm, plant, and retail level.  “About 40-thousand retail-ready dairy products are tested every year for a variety of antibiotics, and over the last five or six years, they haven’t found just a single one of any of those.”

The tetracycline tests will be performed starting this month on approximately every 15th milk load and paid for by the Food and Drug Administration.  All Grade “A” plants will participate, and Galen says many others will voluntarily participate in the testing.

NMPF says it’s reasonable to assume nearly every U.S. dairy farm will have its milk tested in the next 18 months, and not just those shipping to a grade “A” plant.

Galen says farmers are already responsible when using antibiotics, and milk from treated cows is kept out of the food system.

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