U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) annual analysis shows dairy consumers are safe when it comes to animal drug residues in milk.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

During fiscal year 2016 (Oct. 1, 2015 to Sept, 30, 2016), 3.581 million milk samples were tested for animal drug residues. Of those, just 618 (17 thousandths of 1 percent) tested positive, according to FDA’s National Milk Drug Residue Database Fiscal Year 2016 report.

No animal drug residue were detected in dairy products headed for sale to consumers.

The Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), which governs the state regulatory agencies in the implementation and enforcement of their Grade “A” milk safety program, require that all bulk milk tankers be sampled and analyzed for animal drug residues before the milk is processed. Any bulk milk tanker found positive is rejected for human consumption.

The number of samples testing positive was up slightly from the year before, but it marked the fifth consecutive year milk samples testing positive for drug residues fell below 1,000. There were 579 positive samples in FY’15; 703 in FY’14; 731 in FY’13; and 828 in FY’12.


State and local agencies conduct drug residue tests at four “locations”:

• Bulk milk pickup tankers (bulk raw milk from a dairy farm). Samples are taken on receipt of every tanker load at a milk receiving facility. Of 3.085 million samples, 350 (0.011 percent, or 11 thousandths of 1 percent) tested positive.

• Producer (raw milk obtained from the bulk tank/silo from a dairy farm). Of 407,592 total samples, 261 (0.064 percent) tested positive.

• Other (milk from milk plant tank/silos, milk transport tankers, etc. Of 49,848 total samples, seven (0.014 percent) tested positive.

• Samples of pasteurized fluid milk and milk products (finished dairy products in bulk or package form, after pasteurization, including milk, cream, condensed and dry milk and milk products, and condensed and dry whey and whey products) were tested. Of 38,329 total samples, none tested positive for animal drug residues.

Overall, 15.328 million pounds of milk were found positive for a drug reside and disposed of in FY’16, down from 16.839 million pounds in FY’15 and 18.093 million pounds in FY’14.

Testing for specific drugs

In addition to testing for presence of any drug residues, specific tests seek to identify residues from different groups or individual drugs, using 20 different testing methods.

Of those testing positive, 612 samples were positive for Beta lactams; six were positive for sulfonamides; and one was positive for tetracyclines.

Mandatory drug residue reporting is required by state regulatory agencies under the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS). NCIMS is a voluntary organization directed and controlled by member states to promote the availability of a high-quality milk supply.

The FDA and the NCIMS, through their collaborative efforts, have developed a cooperative, federal-state program (the Grade “A” Interstate Milk Shippers Program) to ensure the sanitary quality of Grade “A” milk and milk products shipped in interstate commerce.

The National Milk Drug Residue Data Base (NMDRD) is a voluntary industry reporting program, under contract to FDA. Data reported to the NMDRD are for educational and analytical purposes and are not intended or suitable for regulatory action or follow-up.

The system includes all milk, Grade “A” and non-Grade “A”, commonly known as manufacturing grade. Grade “A” milk represents approximately 99 percent of the milk supply in the U.S. and is regulated through NCIMS by state regulatory agencies.

Find the full report here.  end mark

Dave Natzke