FDA Finds Penicillin Drug Abuse in NY Farm Animals

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The FDA has issued letters of warning to two New York food production operations suspected in violation of adulterated food brought about by misuse of animal medications.

Potsdam-based Adon Farms and Lloyd T. Smith & Sons in Canton are dairy farms, and Francis J. Szarek of Westmoreland, NY runs a veal operation.

The Adon dairy was inspected on April 2 and 9, 2009 and the "Warning Letter" mailed on Aug. 5, 2009. The Smith & Sons dairy was inspected in June 2009, and received the issued letter on September 9, 2009.

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FDA says that both dairy farms offered animals for slaughter and sale as food that were held under insanitary conditions that may have rendered it injurious to health if brought into the food supply. Tests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) showed uncooked edible tissues exceeded the allowable levels for penicillin, an antibiotic used to prevent or destroy an infection in the animal. The FDA was also issued warnings to the dairies for inadequate record-keeping and not following federal instructions for the animal drugs, which requires that the animals be held back from sale until the drug residues clear the animals tissue. The penicillin was also used inappropriately and off-label, and not under the supervision of a veterinarian.

The Szarek veal facility was inspected on April 8 and 10, 2009, and its warning letter" also went out on Sept. 9, 2009. FSIS testing showed 0.134 parts per million of flunixin in the liver tissue of a veal calf sold for slaughter. FDA has not established any tolerance level for residues of flunixin and the presence of the drug in edible tissue means the food is adulterated. Like the dairies, it was charged with using animal drugs for "extra label" purposes without the benefit of a veterinarian and without keeping adequate records.

Flunixin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used in animals for muscle pain, to alleviate fevers, and to prevent endotoxemia. It is only registered for use in horses and cattle.

It is estimated that 70% of the antibiotics used in the United States are fed to farm animals for non-therapeutic purposes such as growth promotion and to compensate for unsanitary farming conditions. Medical experts fear that the residue of antibiotics that end up in the food supply contribute to human development of bacterial resistance. Many health organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association urge for the regulation of antibiotics used for animals designated for slaughter for food.

The farms have 15 working days to respond to FDA.

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