September 01, 2004


 Medicated milk replacers can cause illegal residues in veal calves

Posted Aug. 15, 2004 

The Food and Drug Administration has seen a dramatic increase in the number of neomycin residue violations in bob veal calves. The Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service defines bob veal calves as those a few days to three weeks of age, weighing up to 150 pounds, and which are on milk or milk-based diets. Most of these calves are bull calves from dairy farms. Bob veal calves make up a third of the total veal calves slaughtered, according to 2002 USDA slaughter statistics.

In 2003, the FSIS reported more than 1,800 residue violations in the various classes of cattle to the FDA for investigation and possible enforcement action. Neomycin residues in bob veal calves alone accounted for 44 percent of these violations. Five states had more than 90 percent of the neomycin residues in bob veal calves—Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia.

One known source of these neomycin residues is medicated commercial calf milk replacers that often contain neomycin (400 grams per ton) and oxytetracycline (200 grams per ton). Their labels carry a warning statement that reads: "A withdrawal period has not been established for use in preruminating 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 calf producers using medicated calf milk replacers should observe the labeled withdrawal periods of all products, including medicated milk replacers, given to young calves that may leave the farm.

Nonmedicated 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 nonmedicated 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 producers.