Court acts on farm with 10 residue violations

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A dairy that sold 10 cows found to have illegal drug residues over the course of 10 years must change its practices or pay thousands of dollars in fines.

Lawson Farms, which is near Irasburg, Vt., also must submit to, and pay for, inspections and laboratory and analytic testing anytime the Food and Drug Administration deems necessary for at least five years, according to a federal judge’s order.

FDA tests detected illegal residues of penicillin, neomycin, tilmicosin, sulfamethazine, flunixin, and oxytetracycline in cows and veal calves sold by the farm for slaughter 10 times from October 2002 to November 2012, according to a complaint filed by the agency in the U.S. District Court of Vermont.

In court documents, the FDA states that the farm’s operators administered medicine to animals contrary to the drug labels and without prescriptions, failed to hold animals long enough to meet withdrawal times, and failed to keep complete records of drug administration.

Tamara Ward, an FDA spokeswoman, said the agency’s law enforcement process can be lengthy, involving citations, warning letters, and time allowed for a company to comply.

“We saw some improvement, but not enough,” she said.
On July 8, U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha ordered the farm to implement systems to identify cattle on the farm, ensure cattle do not leave with illegal residues in their system, administer drugs in an FDA-approved manner, separate medicated and unmedicated animals, keep more complete records, let the FDA inspect those records, and give copies of the order to all who work on the farm.

The farm also must let the FDA inspect the facilities used to house animals or store animal drugs whenever the agency deems necessary, as well as reimburse the FDA for the costs of inspections and laboratory and analytic work.

The order indicates the FDA would not contest an effort by the farm for release from the conditions of the order after five years of continuous compliance.

The order imposes a $1,000 fine against the farm for each day it doesn’t comply and an additional $1,000 fine for each animal found to have an illegal residue.