Three Pennsylvania dairy farms are abusing penicillin, neomycin, and flunixin–all drugs used to treat animals, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In warning letters to Reddick Dairy, Trout Brothers Farm, and Rohrer Dairy Farms, FDA said it has found residues of those drugs at unsafe levels in the edible tissues of animals sold for slaughter for human consumption by the dairy operations.

An Aug. 30 warning letter to Reddick Dairy, located near Stoneboro, said the nonsteroidal inflammatory drug flunixin was found in the edible tissue of a bob veal calf sold by the farm to a slaughterhouse for human consumption.  

There is no safe level for flunixin, which some veterinarians use to treat toxic shock, in the edible tissue of an animal.  Flunixin in an animal’s edible tissue makes it adulterated or impure under the law.

Tissues of the bob veal calf were taken and tested by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) after the animal was sold by the dairy farm.

Edible tissues from two bob veal calves sold by Trout Brothers Farm near Loysville were also subjected to sampling by FSIS.  In a Sept. 17 warning letter to Trout Brothers, FDA said those test results came back with levels of neomycin and flunixin at higher than allowed levels in the edible tissues.

Neomycin is an antibiotic often used to treat intestinal tract bacteria.

In a Sept. 24 warning letter to Rohrer Dairy Farms at Washington Boro, FDA said the edible tissue of a cow sold by the dairy for slaughter as human food exceeded limits for penicillin in the edible tissue of cattle.

Developed before World War II, penicillin is an antibiotic generally recognized as one of the 20th Century’s “wonder drugs.”

The three dairies were warned that the manner in which they hold animals were “so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues are likely to enter the food supply.”

Last year, USDA was twice forced to recall beef products contaminated with a drug-resistant strain of Salmonella.  There is widespread concern that over-using antibiotics in animal agriculture is contributing to the ineffectiveness of the drugs in humans, including victims of foodborne illnesses.

FDA asked the three Pennsylvania dairy farms to respond to the violations with planned corrections within 15 business days.