Dairy cows sold for slaughter in New Mexico were found to have drug residues, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In a June 24 warning letter to Roswell, NM-based 3V Dairy, FDA said the dairy operation was found, during a May 10-13 inspection, to be in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

“We found that you offered animals for sale for slaughter as food that were adulterated, ” the warning letter said. FDA explained that food is “deemed to adulterated if it bears or contains a new animal drug that is unsafe…”

After 3V Dairy sold one cow that was slaughtered on or about last May 26, tissue sample analysis conducted by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) detected the presence of 0.55 parts per million (ppm) for penicillin in the kidney tissue, 0.26 ppm for penicillin in the liver tissue, and 0.141 ppm of flunixin in the liver tissue.

Those results exceed FDA’s established tolerance levels for both medications. Only 0.05 ppm of penicillin in the edible tissues of cattle is allow by FDA.  The tolerance level for flunixin is 0.125 ppm for liver tissues.

A second dairy cow sold at auction on or about Nov. 3 was also subjected to tissue sample analysis after slaughter.  FSIS reported its kidney tissue contained 0.08 ppm for penicillin, also above the tolerance level.

“Our investigation also found that you hold animals under conditions that are so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues are likely to enter the food supply, ” the warning letter said.  “For example, you failed to maintain an adequate system to ensure that animals medicated by you have been withheld from slaughter for appropriate periods of time to permit complete treatment records for medicated animals.”

FDA said 3V Dairy, as a producer of animals offered for use as food, is responsible for ensuring that its operation is in compliance with the law.

FDA’s Denver district gave the dairy 15 working days to “correct the violations described in this (warning) letter.”   If the dairy fails to do so, FDA said further regulatory steps might be taken without notice, including product seizures and/or  injunctive actions.