“The Milk and Dairy Beef Residue Prevention Protocol” is a pamphlet designed for use by dairy producers, veterinarians and employees to assist in the evaluation of current production practices and the development of a plan to prevent residues in milk and dairy beef. The Milk and Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Center (www.dqacenter.org), a not-for-profit corporation which provides dairy producers and consumers with educational and scientific materials, produces English and Spanish versions of the manual. The manual has five sections, including: critical control points; a comprehensive list of FDA-approved drugs for use in lactating and nonlactating cattle; a list of milk, serum and urine screening tests; an eight-step plan for keeping records; and completion certificates.

Dairy owners, veterinarians and employees play a major role in food safety and in shaping consumers’ perceptions about food. To ensure consumer confidence and a viable marketplace for milk and dairy beef, every dairy producer should work with his or her herd veterinarian to develop a residue prevention plan. The 10 critical control points of “The Milk and Dairy Beef Residue Prevention Protocol” are briefly outlined below:

1. Practice healthy herd management
Disease prevention is more cost-effective than disease treatment. Consult a licensed veterinarian regarding general herd health including, but not limited to, vaccination protocols, mastitis prevention, calving management, fresh cow management and calf care.

2. Establish a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR)
In the best interests of food safety, a licensed veterinarian should make routine, timely visits to the dairy to gain sufficient knowledge of the animals in order to initiate a preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animals. Further, a licensed veterinarian should assume the responsibility for making clinical judgments, and the client (owner or caretaker) must agree to follow the instructions of the veterinarian. If you have questions regarding labeling requirements or treatments, ask your veterinarian. Keep in mind ignorance is not a valid defense if milk or meat from your animals is found to contain violative residues.

3. Use only FDA-approved over-the-counter and prescription drugs with a veterinarian’s guidance
FDA-approved drugs have been the subject of scientific investigations, and have been shown to perform when used according to the label’s directions. Remember that only a licensed veterinarian may prescribe the use of a drug in an “extra-label” manner.


4. Maintain milk quality
Food safety and quality begins on the dairy. Cow cleanliness, milking preparation procedures, milking equipment cleaning procedures and milk cooling and storage all play an important role in a dairy’s ability to consistently produce a safe, high-quality product.

5. Implement an effective mastitis management program
One of the greatest uses of antibiotics on a dairy is for the treatment of mastitis. Basic mastitis prevention strategies include milking clean and dry teats, post-dipping with an effective product and adhering to a dry cow treatment program.

6. Administer all drugs properly and identify all treated animals
Follow the drug’s label and package insert, and identify each animal (with paint, chalk or a leg band) that receives the drug at the same time as the treatment.

7. Maintain and use proper treatment records on all treated animals
The record system you use should be easily accessible and permanent. At a minimum, the treatment record should contain the date, animal identification number, drug used, dosage, route of administration, withdrawal time for milk and meat and the name of the person who administered the drug.

8. Use drug residue screening tests
The screening tests may be particularly useful when animals have been treated with drugs in an “extra-label” manner, when cows freshen early and have received dry cow therapy and prior to the addition of milk from purchased animals to the bulk tank, including heifers.

9. Implement employee and family awareness of proper drug use to avoid marketing adulterated milk and dairy beef
Train all employees and family members to follow protocols to avoid residue violations. In general, violative residues occur because of a lack of communication and understanding between the person treating the animal, the milkers and the person making the decision to sell the animal.

10. Complete the milk and dairy beef residue prevention protocol annually
Do not allow yourself or your employees to get into a rut and cut corners. One of the best ways to recognize when you are not achieving a goal or following a protocol is to step back and evaluate the situation, or better yet, ask for an impartial review of your dairy and management practices. After completion of the “10-Point Plan,” milk producers may request a Five-Star Dairy Quality Assurance rating by a certified professional consultant. Contact the Dairy Quality Assurance Center office at 1-800-533-2479 for more information and to order copies of “The Milk and Dairy Beef Residue Prevention Protocol.”

Although antibiotic residues in milk and dairy beef are decreasing, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure food safety and consumer confidence in the food we produce. Visit www.dqacenter.org and contact your veterinarian, local extension agent or milk processor to formulate and help implement a strategy to keep the milk and dairy beef you produce residue-free. PD

Joseph C. Dalton, Extension Dairy Specialist, University of Idaho, for Progressive Dairyman