SEATTLE (CN) – A federal judge ordered Rhody Dairy to stop overdosing cows with antibiotics and immediately comply with national regulations for administering new animal drugs and keeping complete veterinary records.
In a federal complaint seeking injunctive relief, the U.S. government claimed that the Food and Drug Administration found excessive levels of several antibiotics in cows at the Sumas, Wa.-based Rhody Dairy during several inspections over the past decade. These antibiotics included tetracycline, flunixin, penicillin and sulfadimethoxine.
Rhody Dairy owner Jay De Jong allegedly kept the cows’ medication records on “an erasable white marker board,” and there were no records of what drugs were administered, the dosage given or the withdrawal times.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture had repeatedly warned Rhody about the illegal practices and sent “at least seven residue violation letters, stating that the agency had found violative drug residues in cows that they offered for slaughter,” according to the complaint.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez granted the government’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the dairy “demonstrated a prolonged resistance” to complying with FDA regulations. “Furthermore, there is scant indication that defendants’ have taken measures to bring themselves into lasting compliance so as to cure themselves of the violations,” Martinez wrote. The order prohibits Rhody from treating cows with unapproved drugs, using drugs for “off-label” purposes, or selling any of its cows for slaughter until it implements a new record-keeping system with detailed information about each cow and its medication. The dairy must also have a written order from a veterinarian for each drug used and certify that any medicated cow does not have illegal drug residue. Rhody has to pay the FDA’s costs for inspection. If it fails to comply, it will be fined $1,000 a day and $5,000 for each animal not in compliance