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Federal court orders remedial action by Minnesota’s Meech Dairy

The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota has enjoined Todd & Patty Meech Dairy Farm and its co-owners from introducing adulterated meat into interstate commerce pending required remedial action.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the federal court entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against the Meech Dairy Farm, located in Sebeka, MN, and its co-owners Todd Meech and Patty Meech.

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The consent decree settles a complaint filed by the DOJ alleging violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and it requires the defendants to implement specific steps to ensure consumer safety before they can resume introducing animals and their edible tissue into interstate commerce.

In particular, the decree requires defendants to establish and implement a quarantine or segregation system to ensure the sharp distinction between medicated and unmedicated animals and that prevents defendants from selling or delivering for food slaughter any animals with illegal new animal drug residues in their edible tissues.

“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting consumers from unsafe foods,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will continue to work with FDA to ensure that food producers maintain processes necessary to keep food safe.”

DOJ filed a complaint in the District of Minnesota on Feb. 23, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to the complaint, the Meech Dairy Farm has approximately 500 cattle, including about 400 dairy cows, and sells cows for slaughter for use as food. The complaint alleged that defendants failed to abide by laws designed to protect consumers from consuming food that contained new animal drugs above legal limits.

According to the complaint, lab testing by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) detected above-tolerance drug residue in the liver of one of the defendant’s cows sold for slaughter. The complaint alleged that an FDA inspection confirmed the defendants did not record information regarding administered dosage, administration route, withdrawal time for meat, or the usable date for beef.

High levels of new animal drugs in animals’ edible tissues poses a significant public health risk. For example, consumers of edible animal tissues who are susceptible to antibiotics may experience severe allergic reactions as a result of ingesting food containing antibiotic levels above established tolerances.

“Poor recordkeeping practices and improper administration of drugs to food-producing animals pose a serious risk to consumers,” said United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald for the District of Minnesota. “The United States Attorney’s Office, along with the FDA, will continue to take action on these types of cases to ensure that Minnesota farmers are following the law and maintaining high food safety standards.”

Trial Attorney Monica Groat of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Siekert of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota represent the government. They are assisted by Associate General Counsel for Enforcement Jennifer Argabright of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of General Counsel’s Food and Drug Division.

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