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Cattle operations

FDA cracking down on cattle operations that use dangerous drugs at illegal doses

Monday, February 10, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: cattle operations, dangerous drugs, FDA enforcement

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(NaturalNews) Following an announcement made late last year about new voluntary guidelines for antibiotic use on factory farms, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to crack down on the use of dangerous veterinary pharmaceuticals at illegal doses on factory farms. A recent letter issued to Shank Farms, Inc., in Hagerstown reveals the FDA's intention of taking further regulatory action against farming operations that send drugged up cattle to slaughter, thus putting public health at risk.

Dated January 17, 2014, the letter warns Shank Farms President Mr. Garry B. Shank that he is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for selling a cow for slaughter as food that still had high levels of desfuroylceftiofur, a residue of the antibiotic drug ceftiofur, in its system. According to a tissue analysis conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS), the cow contained levels of the drug more than three times higher than the legal maximum.

"[USDA/FSIS] analysis of tissue samples collected from that animal identified the presence of desfuroylceftiofur in the kidney at a level of 1.23 parts per million," reads the warning letter. "FDA has established a tolerance of 0.4 ppm for the marker residue desfuroylceftiofur in the edible tissues of cattle. ... The presence of desfuroylceftiofur in edible tissue from this animal in this amount causes the food to be adulterated."

Shank Farms accused of violating FDA order restricting antibiotic use

Back in early 2012, the FDA issued an order restricting the use of ceftiofur and other cephalosporin antibiotics, which are commonly given to food-producing animals living in concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as CAFOs. The only permitted extra-label use of ceftiofur, according to the new order, is to treat or control -- but not prevent -- disease. And the drug must be administered at the labeled dose, frequency, duration and route of administration approved by the FDA.

But Shank Farms has apparently been operating under a system that does not adequately isolate medicated animals from the rest of the healthy herd. As a result, animals with potentially dangerous levels of antibiotics still in their bodies were, and potentially still are, being allowed to enter the food supply, which is unlawful.

"Our investigation also found that you hold animals under conditions that are so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues are likely to enter the food supply," explains the letter. "You lack an adequate system to ensure that animals medicated by you have been withheld from slaughter for appropriate periods of time to permit depletion of potentially hazardous residues of drugs from edible tissues."

FDA blasts Shank Farms for keeping cattle confined in horrible living conditions

The FDA goes on to indict Shank Farms for allegedly failing to keep proper records on which of its animals were being medicated and for how long. It also failed to maintain an appropriate inventory system for keeping track of the drug dosages being administered to animals intended for human consumption.

"As a producer of animals offered for use as food, you are responsible for ensuring that your overall operation and the food you distribute is in compliance with the law," writes the agency, with authority. "You should take prompt action to correct the violations described in this letter and to establish procedures to ensure that these violations do not recur. Failure to do so may result in regulatory action without further notice such as seizure and/or injunction."

You can read the full warning letter here:

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