LETTER : No antibiotics in the milk

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The Independent Online
Sir: Mr Coleman's letter ("Farm antibiotics the real danger", 9 December) contains a number of inaccuracies.

If a dairy cow is treated with antibiotics, its milk is withheld from the food chain until any trace of antibiotics disappear. Therefore antibiotic residues are not normally present in milk. Samples of milk for testing are regularly taken on the farm and again at processing centres. Any farmer supplying milk containing antibiotic residues is liable to severe financial penalties.

Mr Coleman is mistaken when he suggests that milk used to make yoghurt has to be heated to high temperatures in order to inactivate antibiotics which would otherwise kill a yoghurt culture. The reason many dairy companies give milk a high-heat treatment in yoghurt-making has nothing to do with antibiotics. The treatment alters the structure of the proteins in the milk and gives yoghurt the desired texture.


Information Services Manager

National Dairy Council

London W1