The government says slaughtered cows have unsafe penicillin levels.
A Magic Valley dairy has sent cows to slaughterhouses with high chemical levels in their meat that don’t meet federal food safety standards, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA detailed its allegations against G&H Dairy in a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Boise. The agency wants an injunction to stop the dairy from selling its livestock as meat unless it comes into compliance with the law.
The dairy milks about 4,500 cows at three locations in Wendell, Buhl and Dayton, in southeast Idaho. Its cows are sold for slaughter in interstate commerce when they can no longer produce milk.
The cows go to slaughterhouses in California, Utah and an unspecified local slaughterhouse that sends commingled beef to customers in Oregon, according to the complaint.
G&H Dairy did not respond to a request for comment.
The FDA complaint alleges:
• A January inspection by the FDA at the dairy’s Wendell location found that the operation administered penicillin in excess of the labeled dosage and without a veterinarian’s prescription. The dairy also failed to maintain treatment records and didn’t have an inventory system to track the drugs used on the cows.
• The FDA spotted problems dating back to 2009. The agency completed an inspection in 2009 after lab tests found illegal drug residue of flunixin in the liver of a cow sent for slaughter from Wendell.
In that case, too, the agency found incomplete treatment records and administration of the medication without a veterinarian’s prescription.
“As a producer of animals offered for use as food, you are responsible for ensuring that your overall operations and the food you distribute is in compliance with the law,” FDA District Director Charles M. Breen wrote to the dairy in a July 31, 2009, warning letter.
That letter followed at least six written warnings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the dairy about the drug residues found in cow tissues.
• Inspections in 2010 at the dairy’s Dayton location turned up similar issues with excess chemicals in cow tissue. The agency also found that in 2009, the dairy sent a cow to slaughter two days after giving it drugs that require a wait of four to five days between treatment and slaughter.
• The dairy administered at least four different drugs — sulfadimethoxine, flunixin, penicillin and ampicillin — to animals that exceeded approved dosages, making the food unsafe.
Editor’s note: I think the company name is interesting. Magic Valley for drugs? I think we are at Woodstock.