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Conversations: New residue testing procedures


Recently implemented sampling and analytic procedures for meat, poultry and eggs underscore the importance of dairy producers keeping cattle healthy and food safe.  


By Gary Neubauer, DVM


Gary Neubauer, DVM, is a senior manager of Cattle Technical Services at Pfizer Animal Health.With new procedures, the U. S. Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) increased its focus on residue avoidance. When a residue is found in milk or meat, it damages public confidence in our products. You have a real responsibility to assure milk and market cattle leaving your dairy do not contain any drug residues. The entire industry has recognized this challenge and is making great strides to meet it. These new tests are a reminder to develop a residue prevention plan, or update your plan, with the help of your veterinarian.


1) What has changed?

FSIS is increasing the number of samples taken, and the number of tests run on each sample. Through the National Residue Program (NRP), FSIS already tests for the presence of veterinary drugs, pesticides, hormones and environmental contaminants that may appear in meat, poultry and egg products. The new testing and sampling procedures will allow FSIS to screen for 52 compounds per sample, using several methods. This testing will include screening for antibiotics and nonantibiotic compounds such as anti-inflammatories and growth promoters. FSIS also is increasing the annual number of samples per slaughter class from 300 to 800.

Learn more about the new procedures in the video at www.AvoidResidues.com.


2) What do the procedures mean?

By implementing these procedures, FSIS emphasizes there is no tolerance for meat residues from drugs either not approved for cattle, or not approved for lactating dairy cattle.

In dairy market cattle, this means FSIS expects no trace quantities of drugs not labeled for use in cattle, or of drugs not approved for use in lactating dairy cattle. Dairy cattle are far more likely than beef cows or feedlot cattle to be flagged for a carcass residue. Now, with more tests and more-sensitive methods, FSIS is raising the bar even higher.

Ask your veterinarian to make sure written protocols are in place for all products, including appropriate withdrawal times.


3) What products are affected?

 Products not approved for use in lactating dairy cattle includes: Baytril® (enrofloxacin) Injectable Solution; Nuflor® (florfenicol) Injectable Solution; Micotil® (tilmicosin) Injection; Draxxin® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution; Advocin™ (danofloxacin mesylate); Tylan® (tylosin phosphate) Premix; Zactran® (gamithromycin); and Zuprevo® (tildipirosin).

These products are not approved for use in lactating dairy cattle, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies as any animal more than 20 months of age – whether the animal is lactating, dry or has never calved. 

In addition, FSIS expects no trace quantities of drugs not labeled for use in any cattle. This includes: Gentamycin; and L-S 50 Water Soluble® (lincomycin-spectinomycin) Powder.

Ask your veterinarian about product tolerance levels and withdrawal times.


4) Are we making progress?

Yes, the dairy and beef industries are making great progress and we don’t expect the new testing procedures to diminish those strides. There are currently no producers from Minnesota and Wisconsin on the repeat violation offender list through the first half of the year. Producer efforts to prevent residues in market cattle have resulted in major decreases in violative meat residues across the country.

Ask your veterinarian how you can help the dairy industry prevent residues by implementing a plan on your operation.


5) Who can help protect my dairy?

Your veterinarian can best help revisit, or develop, a residue prevention plan. Your plan should include an approved drug list, accurate record-keeping and employee training.

These steps will help assure that every animal leaving your operation has cleared potential withdrawal periods. Be sure to regularly review and update protocols with your veterinarian. Even if a product was purchased elsewhere, ask your veterinarian questions about appropriate dosage and withdrawal times.

If you don’t have a residue avoidance plan, start by taking a residue risk assessment at www.AvoidResidues.com/assessment. The 10-question self-assessment – created using data from actual FDA investigations of residue violations – takes only minutes to complete.

If your operation has a plan in place, revisit it and update protocols with the help of your veterinarian.

You also should make sure everyone on the operation is trained. It’s not enough for only management to know this information. Every employee responsible for administering medications should be trained, not just once, but with refreshers every six months.

Ask your veterinarian for resources to help educate employees on this issue.

We can preserve consumers’ trust by reducing the risk of residue violations, keeping cattle healthy and maintaining cattle marketability – and you don’t have to do it all alone. Veterinarians are the best resource for assessing risk, developing a plan and helping implement it.