IN 2009, Wisconsin led the nation in the number of dairy beef drug residue violations as well as the number of repeat violators. Dairy producers and veterinarians were targeted as the primary source of the problem, and there was a call for increased regulation to deal with this issue.
However, the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Assn. (WVMA) chose to approach the issue differently and created the WVMA Residue Task Force — a group of veterinarians focused on developing a non-regulatory solution to the dairy beef residues, committee chair Jon Garber explained during the Zoetis technical breakfast at the recent American Association of Bovine Practitioners annual conference in New Orleans, La.
In 2012, WVMA, in partnership with the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, developed the What Matters initiative — a comprehensive, non-regulatory, educational outreach program, Garber said, noting that the WVMA Food Armor HACCP for Proper Drug Use Program is the "how" step of the What Matters initiative.
In the years since, WVMA has trained veterinarians and producers on how to implement hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plans for proper drug use on dairy farms. While originally geared toward dairy operations in Wisconsin, the program is now being rolled out nationwide, Dr. Katie Mrdutt, Food Armor outreach specialist for WVMA, said.
Farms can now become food safety certified through Food Armor. Food Armor is an on-farm program that delivers a verifiable drug use quality assurance program by defining the roles and responsibilities of those using it, she said.
The first-of-its-kind, comprehensive program helps veterinarians and producers manage food safety while ensuring proper drug use.
"Drug residues are not a drug problem but a people problem," Mrdutt noted.
The objective is to identify potential hazards and determine critical control points to limit these hazards. Proper implementation of the Food Armor program will ensure food safety as well as transparency and accountability for appropriate drug use on a farm.
The program evolved into a certification process for farms instead of individuals, Garber explained. Veterinarians become accredited by attending training workshops and demonstrating mastery of the program.
Once accredited, veterinarians can then grant certification status to a farm when it demonstrate full implementation and maintenance of a six-section HACCP plan for proper drug use.
The six HACCP sections include: (1) the veterinarian/client/patient relationship, (2) the drug list, (3) protocols, (4) standard operating procedures, (5) records and (6) veterinary oversight (Infographic).
Participation in the Food Armor certification program is voluntary for farms, but it allows farms to implement an effective risk management strategy for on-farm drug use.
The WVMA Food Armor program will be independently third-party verified by Validus, an ISO 9001:2008 certified and ISO 65 accredited company, to ensure integrity of the entire program.
More information is available at www.foodarmor.org.