Food Armor program addresses drug use, residues


With drug use on farm and the related issue of potential drug residues in meat and milk a key concern for consumers, dairy producers and veterinarians in Wisconsin have taken a proactive approach. During the recent American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) conference in New Orleans, Katie Mrdutt, DVM, and Jon Garber, DVM, outlined the Food Armor®program, a new initiative intended to control and document drug use on farms and reduce the risk of residues in meat and milk.

The veterinarians pointed out that while antibiotic residues in beef are rare, culled dairy cows account for about 75 percent of positive tests. And in 2009, Wisconsin had the nation’s highest level of violative tissue residues in dairy cull cattle. Hoping to avoid legislative action, the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA) formed a Residue Task Force to develop an industry-based program to address the issue. Working in partnership with the Profession Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW), the group launched an educational program called “What Matters®.”

The What Matters initiative now includes PDPW's efforts in producer education and communication and WVMA's Food Armor program HACCP for Proper Drug Use Program, which serves as the how-to action plan at the farm level.

Food Armor incorporates the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) approach toward drug use and residue prevention. The program provides training to veterinarians, who become Food Armor accredited. Those Food Armor Accredited Veterinarians work directly with farms interested in Food Armor certification. In some cases, if the Accredited Vet is not the farm's Veterinarian of Record (VOR) , the farm's VOR will be included in the process. In some situations, the Accredited Vet is also the farm's VOR.

The HACCP-based program includes six key on-farm components:

1.       Establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) between the farm owner and veterinarian of record.

2.       Establish critical control points, including a list of all drugs used on the farm.

3.       Develop treatment protocols specifying the conditions and purpose for all drug use on the farm.

4.       Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) specifying how the farm will implement protocols, including goals and measurements.

5.       Establish a sound record-keeping system

6.       Maintain veterinary oversight to monitor and refine protocols, SOPs and records.

While Food Armor was launched in Wisconsin, its organizers envision it becoming a national, voluntary food-safety program for the dairy industry.

Learn more at, and watch for a more detailed article about the program in the October issue of Bovine Veterinarian.