No Antibiotic Residues in Milk, FDA Finds

FDA Consumer, April 1990 | Go to article overview
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No Antibiotic Residues in Milk, FDA Finds


No Antibiotic Residues in Milk, FDA Finds An FDA nationwide survey of milk revealed no residues of any antibiotics, including sulfa drugs, the agency announced Feb. 5. The findings, based on the most current technology, contradict earlier conclusions of a screening test sponsored by a national newspaper.

Specifically, no sulfamethazine (a drug suspected of causing cancer that is no longer permitted for use in milk cows) or other potentially dangerous drug was found in the 14-city survey of milk, FDA said.

Using testing methods perfected for the study, FDA was able to confirm earlier negative findings for antibiotics from tests regularly carried out by states under the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shippers. The new testing methods, FDA said, will be available for use by states as well as the federal government.

The accuracy of the National Conference testing program was challenged by The Wall Street Journal in articles published Dec. 29 and Jan. 2. The newspaper said it had asked a laboratory to test milk using the Charm II method, which is not routinely used for pasteurized milk, and that in this "survey of 50 off-the-shelf samples collected before Christmas in 10 cities, 38 percent were found to be contaminated with antibiotics or sulfa drugs-including sulfamethazine, a suspected carcinogen."

FDA's recent results indicate, however, that the "positives" in the newspaper's tests may have been false positives.

The newspaper published the Charm II results without confirmation by other methods. FDA said at the time of the newspaper report that Charm II could detect only classes of drugs, and that the test was not specific for sulfamethazine. The agency also said the levels reported would not constitute a health threat.

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