From MPI and NZ Food Safety
The milk withholding periods for abamectin-only pour-on products are changing from nil to 35 days. This withholding period change is necessary to comply with the lower maximum residue level (MRL) for abamectin in milk, which will come into effect in September. Because the MRL is being lowered to address an existing trade risk, farmers are urged to start observing the 35 day milk withholding period now to avoid unacceptable abamectin residues and ensure future compliance to the new MRL. Please check the supply of drenches in your sheds and don’t be caught out. Grades are expensive — check before you drench, and if in doubt check with your vet.
What is the impact on farm?
Farmers are urged to start observing the 35 day milk withholding period now to avoid unacceptable abamectin residues and ensure future compliance to the new MRL. They are also urged to check the supply of drenches in their sheds to avoid the risk of having to dump milk. By avoiding abamectin use during the lactation period from the start of the milking season farmers will have a 5-6 week lag time ahead of the change coming into force. It is important to note that any milk produced in the weeks ahead with abamectin residues could still trigger a trade issue or stoppage of trade, so moving away from the use of abamectin during lactation now will help reduce that risk.
How serious are the trade issues around abamectin?
China and the EU both expect exported dairy products to contain no detectable levels of abamectin residues, with international limits of detection as low as 0.002 mg/kg. A previous detection of abamectin residues in dairy products in 2020 resulted in a negative impact on trade, leading to New Zealand Food Safety taking this action to prevent any issues or stoppages in the future.
What impact does the 35 day milk withholding period have on detection of abamectin residues?
The 35 day milk withholding period can be expected to conservatively ensure a lack of detectable residues in order to manage the trade risk. This change to single-active-ingredient abamectin pour-on products will bring them in line with all other products containing abamectin, which already have milk withholding periods of 35 days or longer.
What actions have been taken by MPI/ NZ Food Safety?
Members of the ACVM team at NZ Food Safety have proposed the setting of a new Maximum Residue Level (MRL) that is aimed to ensure residues in milk are below the limit of detection and satisfy concerns from overseas markets. Consultation on the proposed changes to the Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds closes on 12 August, with finalisation of the changes being planned for September. Once the new MRL is in place, a nil withholding period will not be enough to prevent non-compliance with the MRL.
Are registrants of abamectin products also aware of and preparing to act on this change?
Yes. As an example, one registrant has already updated their label and marketing to include the statement ’Milk intended for sale for human consumption must be discarded during treatment and for 35 days following the last treatment’. Registrants are also required to inform their supply chains as the change is finalised for each individual product.