New residue testing procedures

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, has announced new methods with increased efficiencies for testing residues in meat products. Iowa State University Extension swine veterinarian Jim McKean urges pork producers to review their operation and management decisions regarding drug usage.

“Pork has had minimal antimicrobial residues for many years, the kind that would violate these rules,” McKean says. “Knowing about this new testing procedure and program will help producers maintain that level of results.”

Through its national residue testing program, FSIS tests for presence of chemical compounds, including approved and unapproved veterinary drugs and hormones. The new high-efficiency multi-residue methods for testing for veterinary drugs will allow screening for a range of compounds including legal and illegal drugs.

Key Points

USDA announces new testing procedures for veterinary drug residues in meat.

The new methods increase efficiency of testing for residues in meat products.

Farmers urged to review operation and management decisions for animal drugs.

“The testing will include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and growth promoters, and unlike in the past, a sample may be analyzed for multiple compounds,” McKean says.

For example, previously, FSIS would have collected 300 samples from 300 cows and tested for one chemical at a time. Now, one sample can be tested for up to 55 pesticide chemicals, nine kinds of antibiotics and various metals, and eventually will be able to screen for more than 50 other chemicals.

“This is why it’s important for pork producers to read and follow all withdrawal times [and] properly clean out feeders and water lines, and in some cases, floors after the use of medicated feeds or water. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian if questions arise,” McKean says. “Paying attention to these practices helps ensure the supply of safe meat products to consumers, and it’s also consistent with the We Care and PQA Plus initiatives of the pork industry.”

Alliance is adding balance

The Animal Agriculture Alliance joined 15 other ag organizations in early July in submitting a letter to Congress in response to the recent Consumers Union report on use of antibiotics in animal production.

The coalition wrote: “We strongly believe consumers deserve a choice when it comes to their meat and poultry purchases. However, consumers can make an informed choice through balanced information about the challenges, benefits and realities of the various approaches to raising and processing livestock and poultry. We do not believe it serves the consumer to stigmatize certain production systems to boost others.”

The alliance addressed the Consumers Union report in a blog post dated June 26. Additional resources explaining the role antibiotics and other animal health products play in producing safe food can be found on the alliance’s website at Additionally, on July 5, the alliance sent a letter to the editor in response to a July 1 Washington Post editorial that oversimplified the complex problem of antibiotic resistance.

Supports responsible use

Alliance president and CEO Kay Johnson Smith wrote: “Calling for ‘Meat Without Drugs’ to eliminate the use of antibiotics in farm animals may sound like a good idea, but the very title is misleading and inflammatory. Our meat and poultry supply is already ‘without drugs.’ When farm animals are sometimes treated to prevent or control disease, a strict withdrawal period is followed to ensure that the end products are safe.”

She adds, “The claim that 80% of antibiotics are used on farm animals is unsubstantiated. Fully 40% of animal antibiotics are compounds not used in human medicine. FDA has initiated a process ensuring that all medically important antibiotics will be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian and only for therapeutic purposes.” The alliance supports the responsible use of antibiotics by farmers and ranchers in order to maintain the health of their animals and to continue to provide consumers with high-quality food products.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is a nonprofit organization, a broad-based coalition of individual farmers, ranchers, organizations, suppliers, packer-processors, scientists, veterinarians and retailers. Its mission is to communicate the importance of animal agriculture to the nation’s economy, vitality and security. Find the alliance on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

Source: ISU Extension

This article published in the August, 2012 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.