6 September 2002


By Jessica Buss

USING unauthorised non-antibiotic products with unproven efficacy to treat cows with mastitis may be unwise, according to Central Mastitis Review Groups spokesperson Adrian Colloff.

The organisation, which includes researchers and specialists with an interest in mastitis, is concerned that many unauthorised non-antibiotic products are currently promoted for use in cases of mastitis. These include aloe vera and teatree oil-based products, other herbal products and homeopathic products – either as nosodes or treatments tailored to the individual cow, he explains.

But there is confusion about their efficacy, safety and the withdrawal period to apply. And, he warns that their use can be detrimental and may cause suffering when appropriate treatment is delayed.

"It is illegal to infuse or inject into a food-producing animal a product that does not have a marketing authorisation. This is not only important for the safety of the public consuming either the animal or the food that animal produces, but also for that animals welfare.

"The marketing authorisation guarantees the safety and efficacy of the product with a stated withdrawal period and is equivalent to an insurance for it if something goes wrong. This could range from the death of an animal from using a non-sterile product to failure of a bulk tank of milk, perhaps due to a residue or taint.

"Pharmaceutical companies spend large sums of money researching products and having them authorised to provide this insurance. No unauthorised non-antibiotic mastitis products carry this guarantee and in some cases their use may be illegal."

Only homeopathic products have any legal standing with regard to the withdrawal period after using them. The active ingredient in these is diluted until is in undetectable, so these are exempt, he says.

But other unauthorised non-antibiotic products have no data to support a designated withdrawal period. "This makes their use by infusion or injection in a food-producing animal illegal, so it is not even possible to apply the statutory withdrawal period of seven days for milk and 28 days for meat applied for off-label use of authorised products," adds Mr Colloff.

To ensure appropriate treatment of mastitis a vet should be consulted. They vet should be able to advise treatment based on the farm situation and pathogens present. &#42

Authorised mastitis treatments are safe, but there is no such guarantee with unauthorised non-anitbiotics, says Adrian Colloff (inset).

&#8226 Many unauthorised products available.

&#8226 Authorised products advised.

&#8226 Withdrawal period concern.

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