FDA Seeks Court Order against Michigan Dairy

The U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has filed a complaint for permanent injunction against Scenic View Dairy of Hamilton, Mich., its president, and three of its managers, alleging that they sold dairy cows for human consumption that contained illegal drug residues in edible tissues.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, also alleges that the defendants, despite numerous warnings, sold for slaughter dairy cows that were treated with drugs contrary to the drugs’ FDA-approved labeling and without a valid veterinary prescription authorizing such use.

The complaint alleges that violations occurred from 2002 through 2010 at Scenic View’s three farms, located in Fennville, Freeport, and Gowen, Mich. Company president Michael D. Geerlings, Fennville farm manager Mark A. Lucas, Freeport farm manager Michael J. Van Dam, and Gowen farm manager Jeremy A. Portell were all named in the complaint.

Between 2001 and 2010, FDA notified the defendants of its inspectional findings on at least eight occasions, and USDA sent Scenic View at least 11 letters regarding illegal tissue residues. The complaint alleges that the defendants continue to violate the law despite these warnings.

The complaint is based, in part, upon illegal neomycin, penicillin, and sulfadimethoxine drug residues that the USDA found in the edible tissue of dairy cows that defendants had offered for sale for human consumption.

Neomycin, penicillin, and sulfadimethoxine are antibiotics. The sale of animals for human food that contain illegal levels of drugs can lead to the development of bacteria that resist antibiotics and can cause reactions in people with drug allergies. FDA regulations for animal drugs include a specified time to withdraw an animal from treatment prior to slaughter so that a drug is depleted from edible tissue to levels safe for humans.

Scenic View buys cows primarily from New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Vermont and sells to slaughterhouses in other states, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, FDA said.

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