A California farm that the federal government claims has “a long history of illegal drug residues (antibiotics)” in its veal calf meat has been shut down.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division, entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against John C. Virtue, doing business as Virtue Calves, and Shannon L. Virtue, for violating federal law by selling veal calves that contain illegal drug residues for use as food. 

According to the complaint, previous FDA inspections of the Virtue Calves operation found recurring violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that defendants failed to correct. 

The consent decree prevents the Virtues and Virtue Calves of Galt, CA from purchasing or selling any animals for use as food unless they take certain actions to assure that animals with illegal drug residues do not enter the food supply.

The decree, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection Litigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, requires the farm to keep written records to identify which animals have been medicated and to segregate medicated and non-medicated animals.

Excessive levels of antibiotics and other drugs in food, even at very low levels, can cause severe adverse reactions among the general population and can harm people who are sensitive to antibiotics, the FDA said.   

“The FDA continues to take strong enforcement actions against companies that put 

consumers’ health at risk,” said the FDA’s associate commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, Dara A. Corrigan, in a news release. “The actions we took are necessary to ensure that these foods don’t contain illegal residues of drugs.”  

If the defendants violate the decree, the FDA said it may order them to cease selling animals for use as food and to take other corrective actions, including payment of fines for each day they fail to comply and for each animal sold in violation of the decree.