Follow these residue avoidance best practices
As a veterinarian, I feel just as responsible as the producers I serve for ensuring medications and treatment protocols I prescribe are used judiciously. If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were to notify one of my clients of a residue violation, I would feel like I let them down.
Veterinarians are the first line of defense for producers in establishing and enforcing health treatment protocols that prevent residue violations. Producers and veterinarians need to do everything possible to ensure safe dairy and meat products of the highest quality enter the food supply. It’s important not only to protect our businesses and our industry, but also animal health.
There’s a great opportunity for veterinarians and producers to work together to take a more proactive approach to prevent drug residues. This approach includes:
- Establishing a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR)
- Setting and adhering to animal health treatment protocols
- Maintaining effective on-farm records
- Identifying low residue risk profile medications
In my practice, I also make it a priority for my clients and their employees to be on the same page when it comes to:
- Drugs being used for treatment
- Proper administration technique
- Withholding times for milk and meat
- Health records
While conducting herd checks, I discuss protocols with clients. With their permission, I review recent cull lists and reference treatment records to see what medications cattle received. This is an important checkpoint for ensuring proper withdrawal times and treatment effectiveness.
I cannot stress enough the importance of record-keeping. By putting notes down on paper or in your computer, you’ll stay organized and have a reference to look back to over time. I advise clients to record every health event as it happens and to record:
- The animal’s identification number
- Symptoms or disease being treated
- Treatment protocol, including drug used and milk or meat withdrawal times
When animals are treated, use visible cow-side treatment indicators. They help alert employees of an animal’s health status, and whether to milk or cull treated cows. These type of visible markers could be:
- Colored leg bands
These sound protocols help not just you, but dairies everywhere. Think about the impact violations have on our industry. Besides limiting the attractiveness of our dairy products to consumers, an increase in residues attract additional scrutiny from the FDA and pressure to restrict certain animal health drugs from the market. This could limit the number of drugs available to effectively treat diseases and jeopardize the health of your herd.
By working with your veterinarian on your dairy, you will help ensure the quality and safety of the food products you help produce. For more information and resources, visit AvoidResidues.com.