7 November 1997

Protocol would reduce antibiotic transmission

SIMPLE precautions, diligently observed should be enough to prevent antibiotics entering milk bulk tanks, according to Somerset vet Peter Edmondson.

Speaking at the Leatherhead meeting, Mr Edmondson said that while contaminations of milk with antibiotics were rare, a few producers still failed to record drug use and observe correct withdrawal periods.

He suggested that producers flouting guidelines and codes on drug use, add costs to milk production for all producers by adding to insurance premiums offered by buyers to compensate for any antibiotic failures.

"This is not acceptable practice and growing consumer and retailer awareness of food safety is adding to the need for all producers to be stricter with antibiotic use," he said.

"The industry needs a simple, easy-to-follow protocol for antibiotic administration drawn up by the producer, vet and buyer as part of the buyers contract."

Mr Edmondson suggested four simple methods to ensure contaminated milk did not enter supply.

"The first step is to improve records of drug use so that they can be referred to and updated by all members of staff."

"Treated animals must then be identified clearly with tapes or sprays when treatment starts so that if a different member of staff has to carry out the following milking, contaminated milk will not enter the supply accidentally."

He also warned that withdrawal periods for antibiotics must be better understood and suggested the vet could play a bigger role in providing advice.

"For example many producers do not realise that if antibiotic treatment is extended to clear up infection the withdrawal period may have to be extended too.

"Finally milk from treated cows should not enter the milking system at all." &#42

Peter Edmondson: Industry needs a simple, easy-to-follow protocol for antibiotic administration.