CSPI Seeks Release of Study into Illegal Drug Residues in Milk


After waiting two years for the Food and Drug Administration to release findings from a controversial survey into whether illegal drugs are making their way into the milk supply, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest today filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the survey data.

FDA conducted the survey in 2012 after more than a year of negotiating its terms with the industry and state governments. The results, however, have not been released even though the agency has had two years to analyze its findings and prepare a report, according to CSPI.

"Consumers have a right to know what's in their milk, and if there are dangerous drugs in it, they need to know what FDA is doing about that," said CSPI senior food safety attorney David Plunkett. "Why are those dairies that either can’t or won’t follow the rules allowed to continue to market milk?"

The survey on milk was conducted because excess and sometimes illegal drugs are more frequently found in animals from dairy farms at slaughter plants than animals coming from other sources. CSPI had reviewed a year’s worth of drug testing reports in 2011, finding that animals coming from dairy farms accounted for 67 percent of reported drug residue violations at slaughter. In some cases the reported residues were for drugs that are not approved for use in cattle. FDA has told consumer groups that it intends to make the raw data available when it releases its report, but the report has been delayed.

"The agency doesn't get to hide information from the public by simply failing to write up a report on what it thinks the data show," Plunkett said.

While FDA has stopped some dairy farms that have drug residue violations from selling their cattle for meat, the agency typically does not extend that prohibition to the dairy's milking operation, according to CSPI.

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