USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announcement of new methods with increased efficiencies for testing residues in meat products means that pork producers should review their operational and management decisions regarding drug usage, says Iowa State University Extension and Outreach swine veterinarian James McKean.  

“Pork has had minimal violative antimicrobial residues for many years,” McKean says. “Knowing about this new testing procedure and program will help producers maintain that level of results.”

Through its national residue program, FSIS tests for the presence of chemical compounds, including approved and unapproved veterinary drugs and hormones, he says. The new high-efficiency, multi-residue methods for veterinary drugs will allow screening for a range of compounds including legal and illegal drugs.

“The testing will include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and growth promoters, and unlike in the past, a sample may be analyzed for multiple compounds,” McKean says.

For example, previously, FSIS would have collected 300 samples from 300 cows and tested for one chemical at a time. Now, one sample can be tested for up to 55 pesticide chemicals, nine kinds of antibiotics and various metals, and eventually will be able to screen for more than 50 other chemicals.

“This is why it’s important for producers to read and follow all withdrawal times; properly clean out feeders, water lines – and in some cases, floors -- after the use of medicated feeds or water, and be sure to consult with your veterinarian if questions arise,” McKean says. “Paying attention to these practices helps ensure the supply of safe meat products to consumers, and it’s also consistent with the ‘We Care’ and ’PQA Plus’ initiatives of the pork industry.”