US Acts Against Farm over Illegal Drug Residues

US - The US Food and Drug Administration has taken court action against a Vermont dairy farm for selling cows and bull calves for human food that contain illegal drug residues in violation of federal law.
calendar icon 12 July 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

The FDA saidthat the United States District Court for the District of Vermont entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Lawson Farm of Irasburg, Vermont, its owner, Robert Lawson, and its manager, George R. Lawson.

The decree, filed by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont, prevents Lawson Farm, Robert Lawson, and George Lawson from purchasing or selling any animals for use as food unless and until they take certain actions to assure that animals with illegal drug residues do not enter the food supply.

It also requires the defendants to keep written records to identify which animals have been medicated and to maintain a drug inventory. Previous FDA inspections of defendants’ operations found recurring violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that defendants failed to correct.

“The FDA continues to take strong enforcement actions against companies that put consumers’ health at risk,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.

“The actions we took are necessary to ensure that foods do not contain illegal residues of drugs and are safe for consumers.”

If the defendants violate the decree, the FDA may order them to cease selling animals for use as food and to take other corrective actions, including payment of fines for each day defendants fail to comply and for each animal sold in violation of the decree.

The FDA previously issued a Warning Letter to Lawson Farm for similar violations.

The request for injunction states that FDA inspections of the farm revealed that defendants administered animal drugs, including penicillin, in a manner not specified on the label, without a prescription and did not maintain adequate treatment records to prevent treated cattle from entering the food supply.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service reports illegal drug residues to the FDA, which has the responsibility of investigating the misuse of veterinary drugs in food animals. The FDA can take enforcement actions such as issuing Warning Letters and injunctions to companies that are in violation of the Act.

Ingesting food containing excessive levels of antibiotics and other drugs can cause severe adverse reactions among the general population, even at very low levels and can harm consumers who are sensitive to antibiotics.

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