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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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Reminder - Medicated Milk Replacers Can Cause Antibiotic Residues in Bob Veal Calves

July 29, 2004

FDA has seen a dramatic increase in the number of residue violations in bob veal calves due to the drug neomycin. The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) defines b ob veal as calves a few days to three weeks of age, weighing up to 150 pounds that are on milk or milk-based diets. The majority of these calves are bull calves from dairy farms. Bob veal make up one third of the total veal slaughtered according to 2002 USDA slaughter statistics.

In 2003, FSIS reported a total of over 1,800 residue violations in the various classes of cattle to FDA for investigation and possible enforcement action. Neomycin residues in bob-veal alone accounted for 44% of these violations. Five states accounted for over 90% of the neomycin residues in bob veal -- Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia.

One known source of these neomycin residues is medicated commercial calf milk replacers. Medicated commercial calf milk replacers often contain neomycin (400 grams per ton) and oxytetracycline (200 grams per ton). Their labels carry the warning statement “Warning: A withdrawal period has not been established for use in pre-ruminating calves. Do not use in calves to be processed for veal.”

Failure to observe label withdrawal periods before slaughter is the principal cause of illegal drug residues. Dairy and veal producers using medicated calf milk replacers should observe the labeled withdrawal periods of all products given to young calves that may leave the farm, including medicated milk replacers.

Non-medicated calf milk replacers that do not have a withdrawal period are commercially available. These products have the same nutritional value and differ only by the absence of medication. Use of non-medicated calf milk replacers is recommended for all calves that will be sold off the farm at an early age, and for bob veal calves being held for sale by veal producers.

FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine urges all food animal producers to remember to read veterinary drug and animal feed labels carefully. They should always follow label directions to help avoid causing illegal residues in the food products they produce.


Contact FDA

240-276-9115 FAX
Issued by: FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine

Communications Staff, HFV-12

7519 Standish Place

Rockville, MD 20855