The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced that it will be increasing its inspections of meat for antibiotic residues in plants that harvest cull dairy cows and veal calves. In a 2008 USDA Inspector General’s report, they noted that 90% of the residue violations were found in plants harvesting cull dairy cows and bob veal (calves harvested within 1 month of age). They reported a 67% violation rate in dairy cattle, 24% in bob veal and only 4% in beef cattle. The report also stated that a small number of producers had multiple violations. To address issues found, FSIS will be increasing surveillance especially in plants that have a poor history of compliance, expand their ability to track violations, and expand drug testing using newer technology.

What can you do:
1. When using antibiotics and vaccines, make sure to follow directions on the label and follow withdrawal times listed.
2. When antibiotics are used extra–label as directed by your veterinarian, make sure to work with your veterinarian to determine the proper withholding/withdrawal times for not only milk but also meat. These instructions should be listed on the label provided by your veterinarian.
3. Most importantly, maintain WRITTEN records for a minimum of 2-3 years past when you sold an animal. Remember that dry eraser boards are great for identifying cows to dump milk from in the parlor, but you need to transfer this information into a written format. These written records should include at a minimum:
(1) identification of animal treated,
(2) date treated,
(3) drug, dose and route of administration of drug,
(4) meat withdrawal and
(5) milk withholding times.

These written records are critical for you to prove you followed proper procedures if ever questioned. (The full report is available at http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/24601-08-KC.pdf.)