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Dairy Food Safety Researcher
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antibiotic residues, and then dump
milk and levy fines on producers
based on those test results, should
stand by their belief in the validity
of the tests and, in effect, put up or
shut up because it’s hurting an
important resource the dairy
The associate professor said he
has suggested that, to be fair, pro
cessors and producers should share
in the risk associated with the tests.
“Frankly, if the processor has
faith in the tests, there is nothing to
worry about,” he said.
However, he quickly added that.
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“If the test is not good, then (the
processors) will find out and the
dairyman won’t be the only one
holding the bag.”
Under the existing circum
stances, Culler’s recommendation
is for processors to use the tests for
screening loads of milk. If they get
a positive result, then the sample
would be sent to a third party
laboratory for more complete,
quantitative testing that can deter
mine if there is truly an antibiotic
residue in the milk
“Why not share the responsibili
ty with the processing plant and
say if the processing plant uses the
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screening test and it’s positive,
then they send the sample to a third
party lab and (hey run more sophis
“And, if it comes out that there
is a violative residue, then every
thing goes on as it should,” Cullor
said, meaning that the producer
loses his milk and money and
undergoes the 10-point program
and temporary mandatory refusal
of milk from the farm.
“But, if they run the (more
sophisticated) test and it comes
back that there is not a violation (of
antibiotic drug use), then, number
one, the producer gets no strikes
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against him; two, the processing
plant pays for the dumped milk and
reimburses the producer; and
three, die processing plant pays for
the more sophisticated test.”
Cullor was one of 12 speakers
who were scheduled to speak at the
regional meeting of the NMC Inc.,
an Arlington, Va.-besed concern
with the mission statement to
promote research and provide edu
cation to help dairy producers
reduce mastitis and enhance milk
In addition to Cullor’s discus
sion about drug residue testing
problems, topics covered during
the day included a presentation by
James Dell, chief of the Pennsyl-
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Agri Bee Inc.
James Bilski, Pres
Lanoattar Farming, Saturday, Oisambar 2, 11
vania Department of AgricuMMa’a
Bureau of Fbod Safety and Utor
atory Services Division -of Miik
Sanitation; Robert Moser, a rep
resentative for Nationwide Inaur
ance Co. in Harrisburg; Norm Cor
lett, of Milk Marketing Inc.; Wil
liams Sischo, Lorraine Sordillo,
and Steve Spencer from Penn State
University; Jeff Reneau, from the
University of Minnesota; Joe
Hogan, with the Ohio State Uni
versity; Ron Erskine from Michi
gan State University: and Charles
Gardner, a dairy veterinarian with
Dairy Management Consultants in
Also on the schedule was Jill
Hamish, representing her Nine
Points, Lanqptcr County family
dairy operation and talking about
what practices they use to combat
Also on the schedule was Jill Hamish, repre
senting her Nine Points, Lancaster County fami
ly dairy operation and talking about what prac
tices they use to combat mastitis.
In a telephone interview this week, Cullor
further discussed the issue that he addressed dur
ing the meeting.
“People believe the tests are infallible, and
that’s simply not the case,” Cullor said. “Tests
Cullor said he is an advocate of using proper
scientific technique. He should know about tests.
“My lab is called the Dairy Food Safety
Laboratory and we work on new ways to diag
nose and treat disease, new vaccines for mastitis,
and other diseases,” he said.
“In our lab, there are three research assistants,
four PhD graduate students, three master’s
(degree) level students, and five undergraduate
students,” he explained. He oversees the lab.
University of Califomia-Davis has the only
veterinarian school in the state.
“Part of our job is to work for our taxpayers in
the state and to help work with animal agriculture
in maintaining their leadership role in producing
safe and wholesome products, and to help keep
animals healthy,” Cullor said.
He got involved with residue tests after pro
ducers contacted him seeking a scientific opinion
on the dependability of tests being marketed.
“People started calling and asking about the
tests and to find out which ones to use, and we
started doing some controlled research projects
and that’s when we started to notice some
“And then when we reviewed the literature,
(we found that) scientists from around the world
have reported problems with these residue tests,
“Since we reported our results, in the early
’9os, now other researchers around the country
have verified that these same problems exist”
According to Cullor, the problem was that “...
individual cow samples, a lot of times the tests
couldn’t tell the difference between antibiotic
residues and natural host defense mechanisms.
‘The chemicals and the methods the cow uses
to fight mastitis problems cause false positives in
these antibiotic residue tests,” he said.
“And so that’s a problem. If the test can’t tell
the difference, what do you do?"
The answer, of course, to the rhetorical ques
tion is that the test shouldn’t be used for a defini
tive answer as to whether or not the dairy farmer
was careless in keeping track of antibiotic treat
ments on cows and withdrawl times before put
ting milk into the bulk tank.
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