Tips for preventing violative residues
U.S. dairy producers work hard every day to provide the safest food in the world to consumers, but there is always room for improvement. Although dairy cattle make up less than one tenth of the total cattle sent to market, dairy and bob veal from dairy account for 90% of the violative residues on an annual basis. Just one single residue violation can erode consumer confidence and a dairy operation’s reputation.
We have a huge responsibility to consumers to supply a safe, wholesome and quality product with no residues — in both milk and meat. If we can do that, they’ll have confidence in buying our products, which will help producers and the dairy industry in the long run.
When inspectors find drug residues in milk and meat, it’s most often because product labels or withholding times for milk and meat weren’t followed at the farm level. Help your dairy avoid the damage of drug residue violations by recognizing their leading causes and establishing procedures to avoid them. Start with these tips:
- Consult with your veterinarian regularly
Having a strong veterinarian-client-patient relationship and including your veterinarian in regular conversations with your management team not only helps improve cow health and the overall performance of your herd, but also helps prevent residues in milk and meat.
- Keep written treatment protocols up to date
All treatment protocols provided by your veterinarian should be in writing. Review protocols with your veterinarian at least twice a year to make sure they are up to date and appropriate for your operation. Also review protocols with farm employees — especially those administrating animal health treatments. Written protocols should include:
- How to diagnose the disease
- Which medications and doses are approved for treatment
- Instructions for administration
- Milk discard and pre-slaughter withdrawal times
- Steps to ensure that cows are withheld the appropriate amount of time
- Maintain accurate treatment records
The risk of a drug residue violation is significantly increased if your operation does not keep accurate records. All records should note the:
- Animal treated
- Date and time of treatment
- Drug and dosage administered
- Route of administration
- Length of any milk discard or pre-slaughter withdrawal times
- Who administered the treatment
- Always follow labeled instructions
Make sure your operation always follows labeled dosages for any drugs prescribed by a veterinarian or purchased over the counter. When it comes to using pharmaceuticals, never make guesses on weight, treatment frequency or route of administration, no matter where they are purchased. Only a veterinarian can prescribe extra-label uses and determine appropriate withholding times based on dosage and route of administration.
- Retrain employees on treatment protocols at least twice a year
Keep all employees on the same page and prevent treatment protocol drift by retraining employees who administer medications at least every six months. Train new employees before allowing them to administer products.
- Use separate drug storage areas for lactating and nonlactating cows
Most violative drug residues are caused by human error. Clearly labeling and keeping medicines for lactating and nonlactating cows in separate areas is an easy way to avoid a simple mistake that can have major consequences.
Don’t think residue violations could affect you? Know the risks. Take this 10-question Residue Risk Assessment to learn how your operation needs to maximize its residue avoidance procedures.