Starting July 1st Bulk Milk Tankers to be Tested for Tetracycline

Davis, Calif., (June 26, 2017) – Since 1995 every bulk milk tanker in the U.S. has been screened for the beta-lactam (penicillin) family of antibiotics. The program has served the dairy industry well, preventing not only reactions in the 10% of people allergic to penicillin, but also by virtually eliminating the historical problem of product loss due to starter culture death in fermented products such as cheese and yogurt. This coming month will see the first expansion of this routine testing program in twenty years with implementation of a new pilot program testing for tetracyclines.

On July 1st, in addition to the routine testing of all Tankers for the penicillins, one out of every fifteen tankers (6.7%) will be screened for the tetracycline family, which includes tetracycline, oxytetracycline and chlortetracycline. The FDA’s purpose in implementing this eighteen-month pilot program is to identify logistical hurdles encountered by stakeholders (processors) for future routine testing of bulk milk beyond beta-lactam antibiotics. Tetracycline was selected for the pilot program because of its use on dairies and the availability of quick screening kits. Like all other states participating in Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), California will be screening tankers in this effort. An explanation of the program’s requirements can be found in a comprehensive Question and Answer document released by the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS), which governs the PMO and Grade A milk production.

For producers that have not already done so, now is an excellent time to review tetracycline use on the dairy and the operation’s compliance with milk withdrawal times. While the tetracycline family of antibiotics does not have an approved intramammary use for treating mastitis, there are both label and extra-applications, which can result in milk residues. Label treatments include injectable products to treat pneumonia, shipping fever, bacterial scours, and metritis. The most common extra-label uses of tetracycline have been for treatment of digital dermatitis (“Hairy Foot Warts”) and as intra-uterine application for metritis. In either case, tetracycline residues can be detected for days in the milk of treated cows. In order to avoid regulatory issues producers will want to work with their veterinarian and hoof trimmers to ensure that adequate meat and milk withdrawal times are applied to treated animals.

  • Provided by the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program

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