Posted Nov. 19, 2014
Veterinarians have been surprised by reports that their clients have, on multiple occasions, sent to slaughter cattle that contained illegal drug residues, according to leaders of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners.
The AABP is pushing for public notification about all such residue violations, which the association’s leaders hope will help reduce such surprises.
Dr. K. Fred Gingrich, AABP president-elect, said such notification would ensure veterinarians could act following first-time violations involving clients who would not share that information otherwise. Intervention should follow the first violation, not the fourth, he said.
He noted that Food and Drug Administration inspectors visited him about 15 years ago because a client had multiple violations involving flunixin meglumine residues in dairy cattle. He didn’t know his client was not following his prescription, and an inspector told him he had responsibilities to maintain treatment records and prevent residues in meat and milk.
The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service tests for illegal—or “violative”—residues in meat and milk, and the FDA decides what enforcement action is needed. FDA information states that veterinarians can be considered responsible for residue violations involving drugs they prescribe, administer, or dispense, depending on the circumstances of the drug administration and violation.
While the FSIS publishes lists of those responsible for multiple violations within the preceding 12 months and the FDA issues warning letters in response to some violations, Dr. Gingrich said the AABP wants the FSIS to give public notification about all residue violations, preferably within 90 days of the occurrence.
Dr. M. Gatz Riddell, AABP executive vice president, said the FSIS published lists of all confirmed residue violations during a brief period a few years ago, and the AABP had sorted that information for members. Some veterinarians who checked the information discovered that their clients had been caught with illegal residues.
Like Dr. Gingrich, Dr. Riddell said veterinarians should become involved after the client’s first residue violation to prevent further ones.
Dr. Gingrich noted that public notification about residues provides another incentive for clients to immediately tell veterinarians when they are contacted about residues: If a residue is misattributed to a client’s animals or the FSIS is otherwise mistaken, a veterinarian may be able to help clear up that mistake prior to public notification.
In a May 2013 Federal Register notice, the FSIS responded to a request that the agency resume publishing a list of all producers who have had residue violations, a list that trade organizations had used for outreach intended to prevent repeated violations.
The response states that publishing those names to the public can result in substantial economic harm to those livestock producers, and producers would no longer have an incentive to improve their operations so as to avoid being on the repeat violator list.
The response states that the FSIS does not intend to resume publishing the names of livestock owners whose animals have only one residue violation in 12 months.