A scaled-down government effort to monitor possible drug residues in milk samples could begin as early as December.

“It will probably come out in the next couple of months,” Deborah Cera, team leader for a U.S. Food and Drug Administration Drug Residue Compliance Team, told a dairy audience on Wednesday.

Addressing the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Dairy Policy Summit, Cera said one set of samples will be taken from farms that have had a previous history of drug residues in meat from cull cows, and another set will come from a randomized sample of dairies at large.

It will be in the form of a survey, which will be less obtrusive than the aggressive monitoring strategy that FDA had proposed earlier this year.

Samples will not be identified back to the farm of origin. And, “no enforcement actions will be taken (in response to the findings) because this is a survey sample,” Cera said.

Eighteen hundred samples — 900 from the farms with previous residue histories and 900 from farms at large — will initially go to the Institute for Food Safety, a private lab in Illinois. From there, they will go to one of three FDA laboratories to test for a broad range of drugs.

Also read “Surveys would be a less-obtrusive approach to drug residues.”