To investigate the drug residue status in commercial liquid milk products in China, 190 samples, including ultrahigh temperature milk (n = 168) and pasteurized milk (n = 22) samples, were collected in 2019. Milk samples were analyzed for the presence of any of the 61 veterinary drugs in them by using a screening assay combined with an ultraperformance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry analysis. Ten (5.26%) samples were found positive for β-lactams, tetracyclines, and aminoglycosides, and six (3.16%) samples were confirmed residual for penicillin G (n = 6; 3.16%), tetracycline (n = 1; 0.53%), and oxytetracycline (n = 1; 0.53%), with the maximum concentration of 2.85, 40.64, and 12.35 μg kg−1, respectively. Drug residue detection rate in group II (4.55%; the local city domestic brands) was higher than that in group I (2.70%; the major brands of China) and group III (2.78%; the imported brands into China) and higher in domestic samples (3.39%) than that in imported samples (2.78%), and higher in pasteurized milk samples (9.09%) than in ultrahigh temperature milk samples (2.38%). All drug residue levels were far below the regulated maximum residue limits. However, based on some veterinary drug residues detected in the samples, there is a potential veterinary drug risk in liquid milk products in the Chinese market, and this situation deserves the attention of governments and consumers.
One hundred ninety milk samples were analyzed for 61 veterinary drug residues in China.
Samples were analyzed with a comprehensive analysis (group, sample origin, milk type).
Samples were analyzed by the Charm rapid test kit and the UPLC-MS/MS analysis.
All drug residue levels were far below the regulated maximum residue limits.