TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - The Food and Drug Administration sued an Idaho dairy, claiming it sent cows to slaughterhouses even though the animals had higher-than-allowed levels of drugs in their systems.
The agency wants a federal judge to order G&H Dairy to stop sending any animals to slaughterhouses for human consumption until the dairy shows it is in compliance with federal standards, The Times-News reported Friday.
However, Robert E. Williams, an attorney for the dairy, said its owners have agreed to enter into a consent decree with the FDA in which they do not admit the truth of any of the allegations but agree to comply with federal requirements.
"My clients have determined to enter into that consent decree to bring a conclusion to the litigation and also to demonstrate their eagerness to show that they want to comply with the laws that they operate under," Williams said.
The FDA said it has seen problems at the dairy dating back to 2009, and the dairy administered at least four different drugs that exceeded approved dosages to animals and made the food unsafe, the newspaper said.
The agency also claims the dairy didn't keep complete treatment records of the animals, and that at times the records didn't include the dosages given to the animals; the way the drugs were administered; and how long it would take for the animals to become safe for slaughter after administering the drugs sulfadimethoxine, flunixin, penicillin and ampicillin.
G&H Dairy milks about 4,500 cows at three locations in Wendell, Buhl and Dayton, and sells the cows for meat when the animals can no longer produce milk. The cows go to slaughterhouses in California and Utah as well as a local slaughterhouse that sends beef to customers in Oregon.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent at least six written warnings to the dairy about drug residues found in cow tissues, according to the lawsuit, and those warnings were followed by a letter from FDA District Director Charles M. Breen in 2009.
"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," Breen wrote to the dairy.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.