New USDA Survey of Pesticide Residues Finds No Problems in Milk

March 7, 2013 — The most recent national government survey looking for pesticide residues in foods found virtually no positive levels in milk, and none that exceeded government tolerance levels.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts an annual Pesticide Data Program annual survey to test various food commodities for pesticide residues. Each year, USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency jointly determine which commodities to test. In 2011, the USDA collected 743 whole milk samples in ten of the largest states, mostly at the retail level.

Overall, five of the milk samples tested positive, all of which were lower than established tolerances for those compounds. All of the milk sampled was produced domestically.

Annual Survey of Antibiotic Residues in Milk Finds Continuing Improvement

Dairy farmers continued in 2012 to improve their efforts at keeping antibiotic residues out of the milk supply, with the most recent national survey finding that only 0.017% of all bulk milk tankers, or 1 in 6,000 loads, tested positive for a drug residue. This is a decline of nearly 75% in the last decade.

That figure is based on information reported to the National Milk Drug Residue Data Base by state regulatory agencies under the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS). Data are reported on the extent of the national testing activities, the analytical methods used, the kind and extent of the animal drug residues identified, and the amount of contaminated milk that was removed from the human food supply.

Any tanker which tests positive for a drug residue is rejected and does not enter the market for human consumption. The full report is available online

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