The issue of antibiotic resistance is important to everyone in Minnesota. Use of antibiotics with the subsequent development of resistant bacteria has public health, animal welfare, legal and social implications. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has several programs that already address the issue of drugs and drug residues in milk, meat and feed as a foundation for control mechanisms. The Department is building on this foundation to further promote judicious use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
The Minnesota State Meat Inspection Program enforces laws related to the illegal use of antibiotics in animals intended for slaughter. The MDA's meat inspectors inspect Minnesota's 20 slaughtering plants under state inspection on a daily basis. If injection scars are noticed on carcasses, a tissue sample is taken and sent to a U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory where it is tested for the presence of antibiotics that require a withholding period (USDA-inspected plants follow this same procedure).
If the tests show up positive, the carcass is condemned and the information is passed along to the U.S. Food and Drug Association because the FDA regulates the use of veterinary medicines. The FDA then investigates to determine the cause of the residue. Once the cause is known, the FDA passes the information over to the MDA, which investigates subsequent violators in Minnesota. As part of this investigation, MDA inspectors educate the responsible party about judicious use of antibiotics, including proper administration and withholding periods.
The MDA is currently in the process of obtaining the proper testing equipment to begin general, random tissue surveys of its 20 state inspected slaughtering plants to identify the presence of antibiotic residues. Any carcasses found to have residues will be condemned and the matter will be investigated.
Two slaughter plants will also receive an incubator that provides an on-the-spot analysis of whether or not antibiotics are present on carcass tissues through a positive/negative test, known as a STOP or FAST test. If antibiotics are found, the samples will be sent to a USDA or MDA lab for further analysis to identify the type of antibiotic. If the antibiotic requires a withholding period, the carcass containing the residue will be condemned and the matter will be investigated.
The MDA periodically partners with the Minnesota Department of Health or the FDA to conduct surveys of poultry or meat products to monitor for the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Since 1997, the MDA and MDH have had an ongoing study of antibiotic resistance in Campylobacter jejuni in chicken. The study was recently expanded to include surveys of turkey, pork and beef as well. In 1999, an article was published in the May 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine regarding this research.