Dairy producers gather to learn about drug residues in meat and milk


SALEM, Ohio — It’s more important than ever to prevent residues from showing up in the milk or meat production coming from your farm.

Dr. K. Fred Gingrich II, with Country Roads Veterinary Services in Ashland County, addressed a dairymen’s clinic Feb. 16 sponsored by the Lisbon Veterinary Clinic at the First United Methodist Church in Salem.

Residues in meat

Gingrich told the group that being responsible with the drugs given to their cattle can mean the difference between the USDA showing up on your farm and them not showing up on your farm.

The testing of tissues in animal carcasses is the responsibility of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and the attending USDA veterinarian in the meat processing plant, Gingrich explained.

While some testing is random, any animal with any evidence of disease before slaughter is inspected and then pulled for testing.

If you have sick or lame cows, don’t cull them into the food chain. The veterinarian recommends either humanely euthanizing them or put the best effort toward treating the cow. That’s because any animal with evidence of disease or treatment is tested at the slaughterhouse because these are the animals at a high risk of being treated.

Some examples of active diseases such as pneumonia, mastitis, metritis, peritonitis or hardware disease and lameness. Others include inflammation or the enlargement of lymph nodes and injection lesions.

“The point is that you are not going to slip one by the USDA. Don’t risk sending these cows to slaughter,” Gingrich said.

Higher risk

Gingrich sad dairy cull cows have a higher chance of being diagnosed with a meat residue violation — 20 times more than beef cattle and 400 times more than feeder cattle.

He said 82 percent of meat residue violations in dairy cattle are from penicillin, Flu-Nix, sulfa drugs and Ceftiofur.

In addition, Gingrich warned the group that the Food and Drug Administration is conducting a blind survey of milk for drug residue. He said the FDA will take milk samples at the plant from 900 residue violator farms and 900 non-violators.

He advised the group to always work with their veterinarians to make certain that they are not causing a violation in milk from products not tested.

Change in attitude. Gingrich said changes are needed to ensure there is no drug residue in milk but that requires a change in attitude.

“Do not cull cows that have been treated to ‘get rid of them,’ only market healthy cattle are free of residues,” he said.

He also said humane euthanasia should be practiced on more dairy farms and added that a treatment plan and a euthanasia plan should be worked out with their veterinarian.

Beware off label uses. Gingrich also warned against extra label drug use, or using a drug in an animal that is not in accordance with the approved labeling. This could mean using a drug a higher dose than on the label, using a drug not approved for that production class or using a drug for an indication not on the label. The use could also be using the drug at a different route of administration that on the label or using a drug more frequently than on the label.

He also warned producers to avoid using unapproved, compounded or illegal products that can put a dairy at risk of violations.

He said having a residue is bad enough, but if it is from an unapproved product, it will be even worse.

Withholding time

Gingrich reminded the dairymen to never put anything in a cow’s udder except a tube of approved mastitis treatment. The withholding window is unknown on homebrewed products or those drawn from a bottle. He also advised against using unapproved antibiotics for pneumonia.

Gingrich also said farmers must have additional systems in place to prevent residues from showing up in meat or milk. This includes creating a training program for all employees.

He also suggests restricting access to medicine to only approved employees, and keeping adequate records is not just a necessity, but a requirement.

Record keeping

Gingrich said in almost every case of a residue violation, the FDA criticizes the record keeping of the farm. He said to protect the farm, producers should maintain adequate treatment records and have written treatment protocols provided by your veterinarian that are reviewed routinely.

He said there are some requirements for record keeping that the USDA will look for in their inspection. They include, the date of treatment, animal identification and production class, diagnosis/problem, the drug used, route of administration whether it be intravenously, intramuscular, oral or other method. The records must also include the amount of the drug used and frequency, the withhold times for meat and milk and who (which employee or producer) administered the drug.

Gingrich said the best thing to do is check with a veterinarian and develop a plan in all cases.


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