June 29, 2017
FDA Confirms Dairy Farmers Still Use Antibiotics Illegally

Dairy farmers are illegally using antibiotics on dairy farm animals, according to a recent report submitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA initiated a double-blind study in an attempt to determine if dairy farms that were previously identified of using antibiotic drugs in raising cows, were still using these drugs on livestock for human consumption.

The governmental agency collected samples from a small group of targeted dairy farmers that had past tissue residue violations and compared their samples with non-targeted dairy farms who have not been cited for violations in using drugs, including antibiotics.

The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) researchers obtained 1,912 random cow milk samples and tested them for 31 drugs. The CVM Milk Sample Survey found 12-targeted dairy farmers that had violations in the past were still using drugs in raising their livestock. Of the non-targeted groups, four dairy farmers used cow milk containing drugs.

According to the CVM report, the drugs found in cow's milk and used by both groups of dairy farmers are not approved drugs of the FDA.

Six drugs identified in the targeted group of dairy farmers were tulathromycin, gentamicin, tilmicosin, ciprofloxacin 11, sulfamethazine, and florfenicol. The non-targeted group in this recent study only had florfenicol in the lactating cow samples the FDA tested.

The following quote in the FDA's Milk Drug Sampling Survey offers their view of the agency's recent findings.

"None of the drugs found in the targeted or non-targeted groups are approved to be administered to lactating dairy cows. This means that FDA has not evaluated the use of these drugs in lactating dairy cattle, including whether milk from treated cows is safe for human consumption."
The FDA's investigation of dairy farmers having tissue residue in dairy cows suggested the farmers are in violation of additional laws and practice poor management as stated in the CVM report.
"Based on investigations of farms with tissue residues in dairy cows conducted by FDA, possible causes of confirmed drug residues in milk include: inadequate farm management practices such as a failure to maintain a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship, inadequate treatment records, failure to identify and withhold treated cows from slaughter, or not following labeled directions including: discard times, dosage, duration of treatment, and route of administration."
The FDA is responding to these findings by working with State regulatory agencies to better educate the dairy farmers and require the dairy producers to avoid using drugs in milk and animal tissue.

In addition, the FDA plans to continue their surveillance of dairy farmers and carry on with further tests on milk samples with the help of State milk regulatory agencies.

[Featured image by Graeme Robertson/Getty Images]