MEDICINES residues in milk constitute a major food safety issue and, consequently, there has been a great drive to reduce the number of bulk tank failures on dairy farms by dairy companies and the Food Standards Agency. In 1997, the Milk Development Council reported that 0-2 per cent of bulk milk supplies failed to meet the minimum standard. The level of bulk tank failures has increased slightly over the past few years, despite the reduction in the number of dairy farms. The financial implications can be very severe for farmers who supply milk with residues; if it contaminates a milk tanker or bulk silo, they can be liable for the loss of the entire contents, which may be worth as much as £30,000. Virtually all antibiotic failures are due to human error or lack of communication; product-related problems are the exception. The veterinary surgeon dispensing prescription-only medicines (POMs) has a responsibility to ensure that the farmer understands how the medicines should be administered and to advise on milk withdrawal periods. This article discusses how problems usually arise and suggests practical steps for avoiding them.
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