Avoiding antibiotic residues Cultivating public trust

Every farm must establish a clear residue prevention protocol that all team members follow. This protocol encompasses several key elements. Firstly, it requires strict compliance with meat withdrawal times, ensuring that no meat from treated animals enters the food chain until it is safe for consumption. Secondly, it mandates the careful adherence to label directions for all products administered to meat-producing animals, guaranteeing proper dosage and administration. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of consulting with a herd veterinarian before considering the use of antimicrobials in an extra-label manner, ensuring that such actions are undertaken with expert guidance and consideration of potential risks.

By following a protocol, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of an animal from your farm entering the food chain with antibiotic residues. Furthermore, actively seeking methods to reduce antimicrobial use through enhanced on-farm practices is paramount in not only meeting evolving consumer demands but also in mitigating the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

What is a meat withdrawal time?

A meat withdrawal time, also known as a withdrawal period, refers to the period of time between when an animal is last treated with animal health products (AHPs) such as antibiotics, and when its meat can be safely consumed by humans.

The label withdrawal time can only be applied if the product was administered according to the label directions.

Calculating a withdrawal time

Label withdrawal times can be stated in hours or days and both are calculated from the time of last treatment.

Withdrawal times change if the AHP is not given according to the label (extra label). If the class of animal to be treated is not listed, or there are changes to the dose, duration of treatment or route of administration, it is considered extra-label use and the herd veterinarian is then responsible for determining the withdrawal time to ensure there are no residues.

Drug residue testing

Drug residue testing occurs in all meat processing plants as part of food safety monitoring programs. These tests occur for both approved and non-approved products, i.e., regardless of whether the label states it can be used in veal cattle.

To avoid drug residues:

  1. Develop treatment protocols with your herd veterinarian and always follow them.
  2. Measure or estimate accurate cattle weights when calculating dosages.
  3. Follow the label directions.
  4. Obtain written confirmation of appropriate withdrawal time from your herd veterinarian when using AHPs extra-label.
  5. Calculate withdrawal times correctly and adhere to them.
  6. Consult with your herd veterinarian about extending withdrawal periods for very sick animals due to the potential for slower drug elimination.
  7. Identify all treated animals.
  8. Record all treatments, including animal ID numbers, with the date and time of first and last treatments.
  9. Train all employees to follow the same treatment protocols and understand the importance of adhering to meat withdrawal times to avoid drug residues.
  10. Check animal treatment records prior to shipping to ensure all withdrawal periods have elapsed and that there are no broken needles in the animal.

Veterinary-client-patient relationship

The veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR) is a must on all farms. It is a requirement.

In conclusion, establishing and adhering to a comprehensive residue prevention protocol is essential for every farm involved in meat production. By ensuring strict compliance with meat withdrawal times, following label directions for all administered products, and consulting with herd veterinarians before extra-label antimicrobial use, farms can effectively minimize the risk of animals entering the food chain with antibiotic residues. Moreover, proactively seeking methods to reduce antimicrobial use through enhanced on-farm practices not only aligns with evolving consumer preferences but also plays a vital role in safeguarding public health by mitigating the risk of antimicrobial resistance. Embracing responsible antimicrobial stewardship is crucial for ensuring food safety, meeting consumer expectations, and sustaining the long-term viability of the agricultural industry.