A Maryland veal calf dealer selling about 1,200 animals a year has agreed to shut down after years of refusing to change the way he used drugs in his business.

William F. Nickle of North East, MD has agreed to shut down as part of a consent degree of permanent injunction after being charged with repeatedly violating federal law and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations by selling veal calves with illegal drug residues in their edible tissues.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederik Motz of Baltimore signed the consent degree against Nickle on Feb. 19. Former President Ronald Reagan appointed Judge Motz to the federal bench.

Nickle may reopen his veal operation only if he gives FDA 90 days notice and sets up systems that will bring him into compliance with the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, FDA regulations, and other regulations and terms of the decree.

Among those terms, Nickle must identify each of his animals by tag number, keep medical records for each animal for sale or slaughter, segregate medicated animals from those not medicated, and notify purchasers of his animals’ medication history. He also may not resume operations until he receives written approval from the FDA.

The federal government’s complaint was based, in part, on Nickle’s illegal administration of flunixin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Illegal residues of the drug were found by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in calves Nickle sold for human consumption. In recent years, Nickle had received numerous verbal and written warnings from both the FDA and the USDA.

FDA files also show that Nickle was abusing Neomycin, an aminoglycoside antibiotic, as early as June 2005.

The sale of animals for human food that may contain illegal levels of drugs is a concern because of the potential for adverse effects on human health. FDA requirements for animal drugs include a specified time to withdraw an animal from treatment prior to slaughter so that a drug is depleted from edible tissue to levels safe for humans.