Illegal Drug Residues in Cattle Sold for Human Food

The FDA has announced that the United States District Court for the District of Vermont entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Lawson Farm of Irasburg, Vermont, its owner, and its manager for selling cows and bull calves for human food that contain illegal drug residues, including penicillin, in violation of federal law.


The decree, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont, prevents Lawson Farm, its owner and its manager from purchasing or selling any animals for use as food unless and until they take certain actions to assure that animals with illegal drug residues do not enter the food supply. It also requires the defendants to keep written records to identify which animals have been medicated and to maintain a drug inventory. Previous FDA inspections of the defendants’ operations found recurring violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that defendants failed to correct.


Ingesting food containing excessive levels of antibiotics and other drugs can cause severe adverse reactions among the general population, even at very low levels and can harm consumers who are sensitive to antibiotics.


If the defendants violate the decree, the FDA may order them to cease selling animals for use as food and to take other corrective actions, including payment of fines for each day defendants fail to comply and for each animal sold in violation of the decree.


The FDA previously issued a Warning Letter to Lawson Farm for similar violations. The request for injunction states that FDA inspections of the farm revealed that defendants administered animal drugs, including penicillin, in a manner not specified on the label, without a prescription and did not maintain adequate treatment records to prevent treated cattle from entering the food supply. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service reports illegal drug residues to the FDA, which has the responsibility of investigating the misuse of veterinary drugs in food animals.


See the FDA Announcement