Warning letters on March 25, March 28, and April 6 put dairy farms in California, Idaho and Wisconsin on notice about misuse of animal antibiotics.   

In each case, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it turned to the testing USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service does on animal tissues after slaughter to determine what, if any, animal drug residues are still found in the meat.

The three antibiotics that FDA said turned up in tests of animals from these dairy farms were all common, and included:

— Flunixin, also known as flunixin meglumine, is a nonsteroidal anti-fammatory agent.

— Ampicillin is a beta-lactam antibiotic used for 50 years to treat bacterial infections.

— Sulfadimethoxine is a sulfonamide antibiotic.

In finding that residues of the drugs were at levels much higher than tolerance levels, FDA said each dairy was holding animals under conditions that were “so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues are likely to enter the good supply.”

Each dairy farm was given 15 working days to inform FDA of the steps it is taking to bring its operations into compliance.

Here are the specific details:

Who: Van Es Dairy

What:  Flunixin in liver tissue

When: June 16, 2010

Where: Marsing, ID

How: A dairy cow sold for slaughter as food was found with 0.662 parts per million (ppm) of flunixin in the liver tissue.  The tolerance level is 0.125 ppm.

Who: Drake Dairy Inc.

What: Ampicillin in uncooked edible tissues.

When: September 17, 2010

Where: Elkhart Lake, WS

How: A dairy cow was consigned for hauling to slaughter as food.  The presence of ampicillin at 0.33 ppm in the kidney was found.  The tolerance level is 0.01 ppm.

Who: Cache Creek Dairy

What: Sulfadimethoxine in the edible tissues

When: May 27, 2010

Where: Woodland, CA

How:  It sold a dairy cow for slaughter in which the presence of sulfadimethoxine was found at 0.431 ppm.  The tolerance level is 0.1 ppm.