In an apparent plea agreement reached prior to formal charging, an Eastern Pennsylvania cattle feed company agreed to pay $650,000 to settle federal charges that it shipped formaldehyde and another chemicals to farmers to give to calves being raised for veal, then tried to hide it from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Select Veal Feeds and its owner, Wayne A. Marcho, told farmers to add formaldehyde and potassium permanganate to the food between 1998 and May 2005, and supplied the chemicals to the farmers in violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Formaldehyde was used to prevent scours, a common intestinal illness that causes diarrhea. Potassium permanganate was used to improve the color of the veal that was sold to consumers.

In line with the deal, the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia brought charges of misbranding, a violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, against Select and Marcho on Monday.

Defendant Select Veal Feeds, Inc. was also charged with one count of obstructing an agency proceeding based on false statements to inspectors from FDA in January 2004.

The veal business run by Wayne Marcho owned, raised, and slaughtered veal calves for human consumption. The veal business bought newborn veal calves, and contracted with farmers to raise the calves.

According to the information, from 1998 through no later than May 2005, the defendants were directing the contract farmers to use feeding protocols that included the routine addition of formaldehyde and potassium permanganate to the veal calves’ feed.

These are “drugs” within the meaning of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and are not approved for use in veal calves.

According to the charges, Select Veal Feeds was shipping these drugs to the farmers without FDA-approved directions. This caused the drugs to be misbranded which is a violation of the Act.

In January 2004, during the course of an inspection at Select Veal Feeds by the FDA, it is alleged that the veal business intentionally made false and misleading statements, intending to convince the inspectors that the formaldehyde was not being fed to the veal calves.

Because the veal business stopped requiring the routine use of formaldehyde and potassium permanganate by May 2005, at the latest, the government is not alleging any present danger to consumers or public health.

Also filed Monday in this matter is a memorandum from the government for entry of plea and sentencing, which gives further details about the case, and sets forth the terms of the defendants’ plea agreements.

The government is requesting that the Court set a date for the defendants to enter their pleas and impose sentence in accordance with the terms of these agreements.

The Office of Criminal Investigations of the Food and Drug Administration and the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Catherine Votaw is prosecuting it.

She said there was no remaining human health danger.

Photo Credit: Humane Society of the United States