COA tests find no residues of illicit drugs in milk

By Joy Lee ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday released test results which showed no signs of residue from prohibited veterinary drugs in seven fresh and raw milk products available on the local market.

Business Weekly magazine published a research study Wednesday that showed 60 percent of fresh milk products available on the domestic market contained residues of veterinary drugs that are harmful to the human body, sending many consumers into a panic. COA Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) said that the council collected 23 samples of fresh and raw milk products available on the market, and test results from the first seven samples examined came out yesterday.

“The National Animal Industry Foundation tested those seven samples more than once and concluded that none of the samples contained residues of any types of veterinary drugs,” said Chen.

“The test report that Business Weekly did was very rough and it was not clear enough,” said Chen. “Therefore, the government will not take those milk products involved in the report off shelves based on that (evidence).”

Chen said that the COA has been conducting massive inspections of dairy processing factories over the manufacturing process of dairy products.

Andrew Wang (王忠恕), section chief at COA’s Animal Industry Department, said that dehydroxyl-vincadine, residues of which Business Weekly claimed to have discovered in milk samples, is a prescription antidepressant drug for humans.

“The National Animal Industry Foundation used dehydroxyl-vincadine as a test sample when testing milk products,” said Wang. “The laboratory even purchased imported organic powder milk as the sample for the control group, and test results still showed that there were no sign of residue inside the milk samples available on Taiwan’s market.”

Wang said that there were many types of metabolites that the report claimed to have discovered in the milk samples, but it is difficult for officials to know where those metabolites came from.

Tsai Shu-chen (蔡淑貞), of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said that the test method that Business Weekly employed could only confirm the existence of certain residues of veterinary drugs instead of the amount of the residues, which suggested that the source of those drugs could have come from the environment or the foods themselves.

Business Weekly yesterday said that the magazine’s initial goal in publishing the report was to persuade the government to value the importance of food safety, and the magazine did confess in the report that it was unable to replicate the test for a second time.

Expert’s Opinion

Chen Ming-ju, professor in the Department of Animal Science and Technology at National Taiwan University, said that the report and the research study published by Business Weekly were not complete.

Chen said that foods consumed by cows will be digested, which turns those foods into tiny molecules that are completely different from the foods that were originally consumed.

“If experts conduct similar experiments on breast milk, the test results might show phenomena similar to that which Business Weekly’s report claimed,” said Chen. “However, the amounts will be extremely low, which will not cause harm to human bodies.”