Animal Writes
5 September 2001 Issue
Got Antibiotics?

by Robert Cohen - [email protected]

This past week, 34,000 quarts of drug-laced milk were shipped to Michigan stores.


The angriest denials that I've heard from dairymen, and most spirited debates that I've been participated in with dairy industry representatives, center around whether or not milk and dairy products contain antibiotic residues.

Dairy farmers argue that the presence of antibiotics or antimicrobials is not possible because every truckload of milk is tested by the truck driver as it leaves the farm. Milk is then tested again by the processor. Safeguards make it impossible for drug-laced milk to reach the market, farmers reason.

Unfortunately for dairymen, they are wrong. Milk does contain antibiotics. Concentrated dairy products like ice cream and butter can also contain concentrated amounts of antibiotics.

Bacteria develop immunities to wonder drugs. The medical community wonders why new strains of bacteria have developed. Wonder drugs no longer work. Americans consume antibiotics with immune bacteria, and the mystery is solved.

On August 31, 2001, there was a recall of milk in Michigan.

Here is the Detroit News article:

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PORT HURON -- London's Farm Dairy has issued a voluntary recall of milk because it was contaminated with antibiotics, the Michigan Department of Agriculture said.

Susan Esser, manager of the state dairy program in Lansing, said up to 8,500 gallons of milk were sent to stores on Tuesday. She said it's not clear what the possible risks might be.

John Stout, quality control manager at the dairy, said the milk was sent to various stores throughout eastern Michigan. He would not specify which stores received the milk.

Stout said the company still was investigating to see if the contamination was actually antibiotics, but Esser said the test had been positive. Stout said:

"There is no safety or health risk. This is just an issue related to
making sure we don't have a regulatory problem related to the
parameters of the product. This is not a food safety issue."

Stout said the company learned of the contaminated milk on Wednesday morning and began calling customers to take the milk off the shelves.

He said he believed all stores had been called by Thursday afternoon. Stout said the dairy, which is owned by Grand Rapids-based Country Fresh Inc., still is investigating which products are affected. The dairy produces under the brands London Farm Dairy, Country Fresh and Borden. It was not clear which or how many products were contaminated.

Calls for comment to Country Fresh were not returned.

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After genetically engineering the bovine growth hormone, Monsanto learned that cows were getting mastitis, painful ulcers on their udders which resulted in an increase in pus, blood and bacteria in milk.

Monsanto arranged to have their top scientist, Margaret Miller, hired by FDA where she reviewed her own research. Aware that dairymen would have to treat cows with more antibiotics, Miller simply raised the allowable levels of antimicrobials farmers could put in milk. Miller arbitrarily increased the allowable level by one hundred times -- from one part per hundred million to one part per million!

Michael Hansen of Consumers Reports testified and brought attention to Congressional committees that 52 drugs are known to be used as antibiotics to treat mastitis. According to Consumer's Union, FDA had approved only 30 of those antibiotics.

Milk is routinely tested for the presence of six different antibiotics. Farmers are aware of the antibiotics being tested. Do you imagine they might be tempted to use any of the other 46 not currently being tested?

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