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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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Tissue Residue Outreach in New York State

by Jerome G. Woyshner
FDA Veterinarian Newsletter November/December 2003 Volume XVIII, No 6

Milk is New York's leading agricultural product and is produced all across the State, making New York the Nation's third largest dairy-producing State. The milk production cycle requires a constant herd of cows that are capable of producing a steady stream of milk. Cows who are no longer capable of producing milk, or become ill, pose a financial drain for the dairy farmer. In order to reduce cost, and also to secure a financial return on their investment, the cull cows are sold for meat production. In order to protect their investment prior to slaughter, farmers often medicate the animals to keep them healthy. This sometimes results in illegal drug residues, since the dairy farmer may not observe correct withdrawal times, may use inappropriate or unapproved drugs, or may neglect to consult a veterinarian in this process. In FY 02, the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Food Safety and Inspection Service reported 177 violative animals (includes 154 dairy cows) in New York State. In FY 03, 130 violative animals (includes 122 dairy cows) were reported. In response to this public health issue, New York District sent several warning letters to producers for introducing violative culled cows into meat production. Currently, it has three dairy farms under injunction and injunctive actions are pending against two more dairy farms.

In an effort to reduce the number of tissue residue violations in the State, the New York District (NYK-DO) in cooperation with FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets/Division of Animal Industries initiated an outreach program to address this public health concern. The State-wide program focused on educating producers, veterinarians, and students about preventing drug residues in dairy animals. The program started with an exhibit at the Empire Farm Days held in Seneca Falls, New York. Approximately 75,000 people, mostly farmers, attended the farm show, which is the largest outdoor farm show in the Northeast. FDA investigators answered questions about issues related to veterinary medicine and promoted the upcoming tissue residue workshops.

In September 2003, the outreach program went on the road. Representatives from the New York District Office and veterinarians from the Center for Veterinary Medicine and the New York State Department of Agriculture/Division of Animal Industries traveled to five State University of New York (SUNY) agricultural colleges. The attendees listened to a two-hour program that focused on medicating dairy animals and complying with Federal and State requirements. They also learned about an animal medication record system, which was developed by a veterinarian at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets/Division of Animal Industries in cooperation with FDA. The project was developed under a partnership agreement between the two organizations. The New York District received $19,000 from the Center for Veterinary Medicine to directly fund the project. The recordkeeping system was piloted at six farms that had a tissue residue violation and is being revised based on the outcome of the pilot.

Nearly 200 people attended the workshops, including veterinarians and farmers. However, the majority of attendees were university students, who received academic credit for attending the program. A number of students in attendance were from operating dairy farms and were requested to carry the message provided back to their dairy farms. Attendees showed strong interest, asked excellent questions, and provided great feedback comments. In fact, a veterinarian from a large practice located in Perry, New York, requested that FDA present the program at his clinic.

The tissue residue workshops were sponsored by five SUNY agricultural colleges and presented on the following dates: State University of New York at Cobleskill, September 16; Morrisville State College, September 17; State University of New York at Delhi, September 18; State University of New York at Canton (in conjunction with the Cornell University Veterinary Medicine/Quality Milk Production Services/Northern Laboratory, and the Northern New York Veterinary Medical Society), September 23; and Alfred State College, September 25.

All attendees received a glossy black folder with a color label of the Holstein cow calling out, "Preventing Drug Residues in Dairy Animals." The Holstein cow and slogan became the trademark of the outreach program. For every completed evaluation form, a stress-reliever spongy cow imprinted with the slogan, "Preventing Drug Residues in Dairy Animals" was given to the attendee. The New York District is also working with the agricultural colleges who sponsored this event to initiate a mailing of literature to all of the invited dairy farmers who were unable to attend the workshops.

Jerome G. Woyshner is the District Director in FDA's New York District Office.