FDA report says U.S. milk supply largely free of drug residues

By Spencer Chase

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 5, 2015 -The nation's milk supply is safe and virtually free of drugs, according to a report from the Food and Drug Administration.

The study - Milk Drug Residue Sampling Survey - tested almost 2,000 raw milk samples for 31 different drugs and got positive results in only 0.7 percent of the samples, the FDA said.

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“Although this survey was not designed in a manner to evaluate the overall safety of the United States milk supply, the small number of positives in both the targeted and non-targeted groups is encouraging and the FDA continues to be confident in the safety of the U.S. milk supply,” the agency said in the report.

The study was conducted to see if dairy farms that had previously tested positive for drug residue in market-bound meat were also producing milk with drug residue. Testing was conducted on raw milk, not on processed dairy products headed for the market. Market-bound dairy products go through additional processing and FDA testing, which has found zero positives in about 40,000 tests over the last four years.

Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO, said the report “proves that America's dairy farmers are delivering on our commitment to providing safe and wholesome milk to consumers.” He said dairy producers have long worked to comply with state and federal regulations to ensure the safety of their products.

“Dairy farmers have a strong track record of compliance with state and federal milk safety regulations,” Mulhern said in a statement, “and we support education and enforcement efforts to further strengthen that record.”

Despite the extremely low number of positive tests, Mulhern said continuing educational efforts are needed to help producers, veterinarians and pharmaceutical companies keep even trace levels of drugs and antibiotics from entering the food system.

“We want to continuously improve the demonstrably-effective processes already in place to keep antibiotics out of milk,” Mulhern said. “These results are great, but we still are aiming for zero positives in the future.”

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