Don’t take our word for it… FDA finds little evidence of antibiotics in milk
Many of my extended family members have periodically sought out nutrition advice from me (Yep, I am a registered dietitian). One of the questions I received often was in regard to what type of milk I use because they were concerned about antibiotics in milk. I told them I use milk from conventional farms because there is not a nutritional difference versus organic milk but I did not have reliable information about antibiotic use. Now I have the facts, confirmed by the FDA and I want to share them with you.
The report is in and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirms what dairy farmers have been saying: There is no need for concern over antibiotics in milk. That is Great news! Modern dairy farm practices prevent antibiotics from entering our milk supply. The report released last week from the FDA showed that of 2000 milk samples tested, over 99% were free from antibiotics.
In 2012, the FDA conducted a study to assure the milk testing system was working. They took raw milk samples from a selection of dairy farms that had previous violations for presence of antibiotics in dairy cows sent to meat production facilities. They also took samples from random dairy farms. The conclusions were clear. While there were isolated incidences of antibiotics in less than 1% of the samples, the presence of these in the milk supply would have been microscopic and not a human health issue. Dairy farmers, milk processors and the FDA are confident our milk supply is safe. They remain committed to the testing protocol and will continue to work to make all improvements possible to continue to earn your confidence and trust. After all, it is what their families (and mine) drink.
My second day on the job with UDIM, I met Dr. Erskine, a large animal veterinarian and professor at Michigan State University (MSU). He shared what the REAL story is regarding antibiotic use on a dairy farm. Check out the video! First, antibiotics are ONLY given to sick cows. When a milker or other farm worker sees signs of a sick cow, they immediately tag the cow for a check-up by the appropriate member of the farm team. If the cow is found to have an infection, she is treated with the appropriate dose of an approved antibiotic, just like a person. She is segregated from the rest of the herd, but is still milked. The milk is discarded and NOT sent to the processor for packaging (they called it a bottler when I was little). When the appropriate amount of time has passed for the antibiotic to clear from the cow’s system and tests clean, she is returned to the herd for routine milking. (Why do they continue to milk the cow? If you have to ask, you have never breast-fed. Not milking a lactating cow would be extremely painful for the cow!)
To further assure our milk is antibiotic-free, samples of the milk are pulled from the milk storage tanks on the farm before the milk is sent to the processor. Then, the tanker truck of milk is tested for antibiotics before it is ever unloaded at the dairy plant. If antibiotics are discovered, the entire truckload is discarded. The samples taken at the farm are then tested to see where the offending milk originated. The farm found to have positive tests for antibiotics must pay for the entire cost of the milk destroyed. This is a huge financial incentive for farmers NOT to include milk from antibiotic-treated cows in their batch. Many farmers conduct their own test before the milk leaves the farm so they can be assured they will not be penalized. In addition, the FDA issues a citation for the error.
So, why is there confusion over antibiotics in milk? Organic dairy farmers are proud not to use antibiotics in treating their cows and some people like to make that a competitive difference. They say “this milk is antibiotic-free” and that implies that conventional milk contains antibiotics. In fact, not using antibiotics can every painful for the cow (imagine not getting an antibiotic when you have strep throat or other infections…Yikes! It hurts!).
It is up to you to make the best choice for you and your family. But get the facts. In this case, the facts say “There are no antibiotics in the real milk I enjoy.”
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