A dairy operation in Tipton, CA was using too much of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory animal drug known as flunixin and could not pass a residue test.
Flunixin is effective in reducing pain, fever and inflammation in animals, and the over-the-counter drug is popular on dairy farms. It’s as useful for treating animals as aspirin and ibuprofen — also non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — are for treating humans.
Dairy farms are suppose to back off use of the animal drug, known in its injectable solution form as flunixin meglumine, before selling cows for slaughter as human food. The tolerance level for flunixin in the edible tissues of cattle is 0.125 parts per million.
California’s Double M Jerseys, located near Tipton, sold a cow for slaughter last Feb. 17 with more than four times the limit of the tolerance level. After slaughter, tissue samples from the Double M Jerseys cow were tested by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The FSIS analysis came back with flunixin residues of 0.569 ppm in the liver tissue.
In an Aug. 1 warning letter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said high drug residues mean meat from the animal was considered to be adulterated.
FDA, during an inspection of Double M Jerseys last May 11 and 24, found the injectable version of flunixin was being used in ways not indicated on the label.
Going off-label with animal drugs is allowed only under the direction of a licensed veterinarian “within the context of a valid veterinarian/client/patient.”
In the warning letter, FDA asked Double M Jerseys to respond with its plans for correcting the violations.