In what has become an annual affirmation of dairy farmers’ commitment to keeping antibiotic residues out of the milk supply, the 2018 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report tracking residue levels continued to show a decline in positive drug test results.
Released in late December, the 2018 National Milk Drug Residue Data Base survey found that only 0.010 percent of all bulk-milk tankers – or 1 in 9,900 loads – showed any sign of animal antibiotic drug residues. On-farm vigilance in following drug withdrawal times has led to a steady decline in detectable antibiotic residues, with 2018’s figure falling from an already low level of 0.028 percent in 2008, a decline of over 65 percent in the last decade. All milk loads are tested for antibiotics. Any tanker that tests positive for a drug residue is rejected before entering a dairy plant and does not enter the market for human consumption.
In December, FDA announced that domestic sales and distribution of all medically important antimicrobials intended for use in food-producing animals decreased by 33 percent between 2016-2017. This reduction in sales volume indicates that ongoing efforts to support antimicrobial stewardship are having a significant impact.