The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), filed a complaint for permanent injunction against a veal operation in Maryland for allegedly selling veal calves with illegal drug residues in edible tissues.

The complaint, filed last Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, also alleges that the veal operator, William F. Nickle, used animal drugs for extralabel purposes, caused dugs to become adulterated, used drugs without “a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship,” and used drugs in animals in which such drugs are explicitly forbidden.

According to the FDA, Mr. Nickle buys and sells more than 1,200 calves intended for human consumption annually. 

The agency’s action came after the USDA found illegal flunixin drug residues in the edible tissue of Mr. Nickle’s calves.

Flunixin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used in cattle to control abnormal rise in body temperature that can come from bovine respiratory disease. According to the FDA, “The sale of animals for human food that may contain illegal levels of the drugs is a concern because of the potential adverse effects on human health.”

Mr. Nickle had received numerous warnings from both the USDA and FDA in past years. FDA inspected the facility last Spring and sent a warning letter to Nickle in 2004.

“Despite these warnings, Mr. Nickle failed to comply with the law,” said the FDA yesterday.