Journal of dairy science

Detection of antimicrobial substances in individual cow and quarter milk samples using Delvotest microbial inhibitor tests.

PMID 10212456


The use of antibiotic therapy to treat and prevent udder infections of cows during the dry period is a key component of mastitis control in many countries. At the same time, the general public is becoming increasingly aware of potential hazards from antibiotic residues in foods. Consequently, Delvotest Cow Test (Royal Gist-brocades NV, Delft, The Netherlands), an on-farm version of Delvotest P, a microbial inhibitor test for antimicrobials, is being increasingly used by farmers to assess that milk from individual cows is fit for consignment to the bulk tank. Occasional reports of unexplained positive test results have led to suggestions of possible false-positive reactions in milk from individual cows. To investigate the potential causes of such positive test results, three separate investigations were undertaken. In a field survey of unexplained positive reports from farmers, 14 milk samples from six farms that tested positive were all found to contain antibiotic residues. In more formal investigations of individual quarter milk samples from an experimental herd, none of 134 milk samples from midlactation cows yielded positive reactions; for cows that had just calved, 16 of 144 milk samples were positive, and, of those, 13 had somatic cell counts > 4,000,000/ml. Natural inhibitors were responsible for 1 positive reaction, 8 positive reactions were related to incomplete milking, and 7 samples contained beta-lactam antibiotics. Positive reactions caused by antibiotic persisted in individual quarter samples for up to 7 d postcalving compared with 4 d for milk samples from the whole udder. Delvotest was sensitive to cephalonium, the active ingredient of Cepravin Dry Cow (Mallinckrodt Veterinary Ltd., Uxbridge, United Kingdom), which is the market-leading product in the United Kingdom. Test results yielded a partial purple color reaction in the presence of 8 micrograms/kg of cephalonium and a completely purple reaction at 16 micrograms/kg. These results confirm the validity of Delvotest when used to examine composite milk samples from individual cows supplying the United Kingdom dairy industry and suggest that, with proper attention to milk withdrawal periods and complete milking, there is no obvious risk of antibiotic contamination of milk.

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Cefalonium hydrate, VETRANAL, analytical standard
C20H18N4O5S2 · xH2O