Multidrug residues and antimicrobial resistance patterns in waste milk from dairy farms in Central California

P. N. Tempini, S. S. Aly, B. M. Karle, R. V. Pereira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Waste milk (WM) is a common source of feed for preweaned calves in US dairy farms. However, limited information is available about characteristics of this product, including concentration of drug residues and potential hazards from antibiotic-resistant bacteria present in the milk. The aims of this cross-sectional study were to (1) identify and measure the concentration of antimicrobial residues in raw WM samples on dairy farms in the Central Valley of California, (2) survey farm management practices for factors associated with the occurrence of specific antimicrobial residues in raw WM, (3) characterize the antimicrobial resistance patterns of E. coli cultured from raw WM samples, and (4) evaluate the potential association between WM quality parameter and risk of identifying drug residues in milk. A single raw bulk tank WM sample was collected from dairy farms located in California's Central Valley (n = 25). A questionnaire was used to collect information about farm management practices. Waste milk samples were analyzed for a multidrug residue panel using liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Bacteria were cultured and antimicrobial resistance was tested using standard techniques; milk quality parameters (fat, protein, lactose, solids-not-fat, somatic cell count, coliform count, and standard plate count) were also measured. Of the 25 samples collected, 15 (60%) contained detectable concentrations of at least 1 antimicrobial. Of the drug residue–positive samples, 44% (11/25) and 16% (4/25) had detectable concentrations of β-lactams and tetracycline, respectively. The most prevalent drug residues were ceftiofur (n = 7, 28%), oxytetracycline (n = 4, 16%), and cephapirin (n = 3, 12%). No significant associations were identified between farm characteristics or management practices and presence of drug residues in WM. In this study, 20% of farms did not pasteurize WM before feeding to calves. Two of the 10 Escherichia coli isolated from WM samples were multidrug resistant. Streptococcus spp. (n = 21, 84%) was the most common genus cultured from WM samples, followed by Staphylococcus spp. (n = 20, 80%) and E. coli (n = 10, 40%). Mycoplasma spp. was cultured from 2 WM samples (n = 2, 8%). The presence of drug residues in WM at concentrations that increase selection of resistant bacteria indicates the need for additional studies targeting on-farm milk treatments to degrade drug residues before feeding to calves. The presence of multidrug-resistant E. coli in WM urges the need for on-farm practices that reduce calf exposure to resistant bacteria, such as pasteurization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • antibiotic resistance
  • ceftiofur
  • drug residue
  • waste milk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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