A Vermont dairy farm family, which has had trouble keeping drug residues from showing up in the meat it sells for human consumption at or below tolerance levels, has agreed to a permanent injunction and consent degree with the federal government. Correia Family Farms was named in a complaint Monday for a permanent injunction brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont. Anthony and Barbara Correia, who purchased the farm in 1974, son Stephen, and family attorney Amy B. Menard signed the content degree on Tuesday. The complaint documented instances going back 15 years where animals sent for slaughter as human food from Correia Family Farms were found with drug residues that exceeded permissible levels set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The complaint said the operation has a “long history” of violations involving those higher-than-permitted levels of drug residues, poor record-keeping, and obtaining and using animal drugs without the services of a licensed veterinarian. Correia Family Farms is well-known among Vermont’s dairy industry. As recently as 2011, the Vermont Economic Development Authority loaned the dairy farm $788,050 for improvements, including a 157-acre land purchase, tillage equipment to improve subsurface drainage on crop land, pasteurization equipment for feeding calves, and remote sensing devices. In signing the consent decree, the owners of the 1,000-acre dairy farm agreed not to violate the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), which is the law FDA is charged with enforcing to keep harmful drug residues out of human food. The complaint states that previous FDA inspections of the farm and lab tests performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found recurring FDCA violations of the same nature, which the defendants failed to correct despite FDA warnings. “When farms fail to implement and maintain appropriate controls for the administration of antibiotics and other drugs to food-producing animals, they jeopardize public health,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, who heads DOJ’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with the FDA to try to make sure that consumers are getting safe food.” Along with the filing of the complaint, the defendants have agreed to settle the litigation and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction that prohibits them from violating the FDCA. The consent decree subjects the defendants to heightened FDA oversight and requires them to cease all operations until they implement a number of new record-keeping and operational protocols designed to ensure consumer safety. In order for the defendants to resume food production, FDA first must determine that their manufacturing practices have come into compliance with the law. The consent decree, which government attorneys have also signed, does requires judicial approval.
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