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WE are writing in response to the letter by N. Pathiraja about waste milk feeding, antibiotic resistance and animal by-products (ABP) regulations (VR, October 27, 2012, vol 171, p 429). The letter suggests that where milk contains residues of authorised substances or contaminants exceeding the permitted levels as referred to in Article 15(3) of Directive 96/23/EC (ie, in this case, antibiotics), it would be classified as a category 2 ABP and, as such, the ABP regulation EU 1069/2009 would prevent its use for animal feeding. Although this is true where milk is fed outside the farm of origin, the EU ABP Regulation (EC) 1069/2009 removes from the scope of its controls ‘raw milk, colostrum and products derived therefrom which are obtained, kept, disposed of or used on the farm of origin’. Therefore, the practice of feeding waste milk to calves on the farm of origin of such milk does not breach ABP legislation. In addition, this practice is not in breach of current veterinary medicines regulations.
Waste milk is fed to calves in many European countries, including the UK. Ongoing research is taking place both in the UK, funded by Defra, and in other parts of the EU, to investigate any contribution of this practice to the development of antimicrobial resistance. There is currently no evidence that this practice results in any increased risk to public health. However, the Defra Antimicrobial Resistance Coordination group is continuing to monitor evidence in this area closely.
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