On-farm therapeutic use of animal health care products occurs to treat disease, injury and other maladies of livestock and poultry. In the early 1990s, FDA, in collaboration with states, established a fluid milk screening process to ensure that medications administered to dairy livestock do not result in violative residues in milk consumed by the public. Today, all milk is screened before it is accepted into a processing plant. Milk that tests positive for antibiotic residues is rejected for human consumption and appropriately discarded.
Targeted testing for drug residues is also performed at slaughter in order to help prevent the presence of violative drug residues in meat-based foods. The most common reasons that animals end up at slaughter with illegal and unsafe levels of medications in their organs and tissues include the administration of incorrect drug dosages via inappropriate routes (IV vs. IM), feeding of antibiotic-containing milk replacer to bob veal, and lack of observance of appropriate withhold times once animals have been medicated.
In 2011, the legislature authorized the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to issue administrative penalties against producers whose animals are found to have violative residues at slaughter. It is imperative that Vermont producers work diligently to reduce the incidence of violative drug residues in milk and meat. The links below contain producer educational materials that may assist in this effort. Additionally, producers are encouraged to work closely with their veterinarian to develop best management practices that will lessen the incidence of violative drug residues in milk and meat. The importance of the collaboration with the herd/flock veterinarian is heightened with the FDA's 2015 amendment of the new animal drug regulations to implement the veterinary feed directive (VFD) drugs section of the Animal Drugs Availability Act of 1996. FDA concurrently revised Guidance for Industry #120, Veterinary Feed Directive Regulation. A VFD drug is intended for use in animal feeds, and such use of the VFD drug is permitted only under the professional supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
Questions regarding drug residues in meat and milk can be directed to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets' Animal Health Office.