by SUSAN MANN
Dairy Farmers of Ontario will be starting a broader surveillance for drug residues in milk effective Nov. 1.
Routine testing of producer samples at the lab will be discontinued. George MacNaughton, director of Dairy Farmers production division, says the routine testing program looks at drugs the industry is already screening. All processors screen milk loads for beta lactams, the main group of drugs farmers use, and several randomly screen for sulfa-based drugs and tetracycline. In addition to beta lactams, there are seven other families of drugs in use, including sulfa-based drugs and tetracycline.
“What we’re going to do is we’re going to concentrate on the five families of drugs that are not routinely checked,” he explains, noting it’s somewhat redundant to test producer samples for drugs that were already tested in loads by processors.
The changes to the inhibitor-testing program were outlined in a discussion paper released at Dairy Farmers’ fall regional meetings for farmer delegates last week.
MacNaughton says the change is a better use of resources and that’s partly why it’s being done. The changes are also in response to concerns European Union (EU) auditors had with the testing focus being on the beta lactam group of drugs when there are other drug families available that farmers use. Ontario must meet EU requirements to be able to export dairy products and products containing dairy ingredients to the EU.
Dairy Farmers will still be able to determine which producer causes a drug violation because it knows which producers are on the milk loads. Last year, all 17 positive inhibitor violations were detected through load testing rather than through producer sampling, he says.
Another change in the inhibitor-testing program is the official method to confirm load and producer samples will be approved rapid test kits. Also processors are eligible to receive $3 for each different test conducted on a load or compartment to a maximum of three different tests per load or compartment.
In other milk quality news, Dairy Farmers staff has been working on a review of Ontario’s raw milk quality program. After this year’s spring regional meetings, P5 chairs directed that quality harmonization discussions be held among the five provinces – Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island – that are part of the eastern milk-pooling agreement. (Under the agreement the provinces share revenue from industrial and fluid milk markets and work cooperatively on other matters of mutual interest).Western provinces have also said they’re interested in being part of the review.
“As a result quality harmonization discussions will be national in scope,” says the discussion paper.
Dairy Farmers announced that since the P5 and western provinces are discussing harmonizing raw milk quality programs, the provincial organization would no longer be considering changing Ontario’s programs on its own. BF