The FDA has introduced a program for testing milk for the presence of antibiotics, concentrating on dairies with previous violations. The problem relates to the need to withhold milk until microbiological assay results are obtained.

This situation is reminiscent of the requirements of the Final Rule on Salmonella enteritidis, which obliges farmers to submit four consecutive egg samples for assay over a protracted period following detection of SE in the environment of flocks. The presence of SE in eggs will result in mandatory recall. In the absence of SE. producers are allowed to ship eggs but if the pathogen is identified a mandatory recall is required.

Concern over antibiotic residues in milk stems from test performed on culled cows in which residue violations were detected from in 788 out of 2.6 million slaughtered animals in 2008. The FDA contends that inappropriate administration of therapeutic antibiotics may be leading to a problem of milk residues. Accordingly they intend to test for approximately 20 antibiotics beyond the six that are frequently included in antibiotic panels.

Following vehement protests from agricultural officials in ten northeastern states with significant dairy production, the FDA indicated that it would review the program since it will seriously disrupt milk production and cause significant financial loss to farmers.