Michigan’s Scenic View Dairy, with farms at Fennville, Freeport, and Gowen, should be shut down for selling cows for human consumption with antibiotic levels that exceed tolerable limits.
So argues Adam B. Townshend, assistant U.S. Attorney, in a 25-page complaint filed Aug. 31 in U.S. District Court for Western Michigan against Scenic View Dairy LLC, its president, and three of its managers.
Abuse of antibiotics in animals is believed by many experts to lessen the effectiveness of antibiotics used to treat humans, including those infected by foodborne diseases.
A court date has not yet been set for the request by the government for a permanent injunction against Hamilton-based Scenic View, but the case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Gordon J. Quist.
In the complaint, Townshend alleges that Scenic View Dairy, its president, Michael D. Geerlings, and managers, Mark A. Lucas, Michael J. Van Dam, and Jeremy A. Portell sold for slaughter dairy cows that were treated with drugs contrary to the drugs’ FDA-approved labeling and without a veterinary prescription authorizing such use.
The assistant U.S. attorney’s complaint says the dairymen ignored numerous warnings, dating as far back as 2002.
FDA sent a warning letter to Scenic View Dairy on May 15, 2003 stemming from inspections that occurred from Nov. 2 to Dec. 5, 2002. At that time, FDA found neomycin, an aminoglycoside antibiotic, in the kidney and liver tissues of animals sold by the dairy at levels far higher than tolerance levels.
The complaint alleges that these violations have continued through 2010 at Scenic View Dairy’s three farms.
Between 2001 and 2010, the FDA notified the defendants of its inspectional findings on at least eight occasions, and USDA sent Scenic View at least 11 letters regarding illegal tissue residues. The complaint alleges that the defendants continue to violate the law despite these warnings.
The complaint is based, in part, upon illegal neomycin, penicillin, and sulfadimethoxine drug residues that the USDA found in the edible tissue of dairy cows that the defendants had offered for sale for human consumption.
Neomycin, penicillin, and sulfadimethoxine are all antibiotics. The sale of animals for human food that contain illegal levels of drugs can lead to the development of bacteria that resist antibiotics and can cause reactions in people with drug allergies. FDA regulations 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.
Scenic View Dairy buys cows primarily from New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Vermont and sells to slaughterhouses in other states, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
No attorneys have yet been named for the dairy or its personnel. The U.S. District Court Clerk has said all future filings in the case must be by electronic means.
Current high cattle prices are causing many dairy cows to be sold for slaughter.