WASHINGTON – The U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho has entered a consent decree against G&H Dairy LLC., Jesus M. Hurtado, Gilbert M. Hurtado and John J. Gomez to resolve allegations of violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Justice Department announced today. The government’s action results from a series of inspections by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of G&H Dairy’s farms from 2009 to 2011.
The defendants, who are primarily in the dairy business, also sell cows for slaughter as food. Dairy farmers are required to maintain systems to ensure that their use of animal drugs is safe and conforms with the law. Among other things, they are required to wait a certain period of time before they may release food-producing animals treated with drugs for slaughter. Failure to do so may result in excess drugs in the tissues of these animals, above safe limits. This may harm consumers by causing allergic reactions and by contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Between June 2006 and October 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service identified seven incidents of excess drug residues in culled G&H dairy cows that were sold for slaughter. Following these reports, the FDA inspected the dairy farm and found that G&H had used animal drugs in ways that caused these excess tissue residues in animals sold for slaughter as food. The inspections also revealed that G&H failed to maintain complete records concerning the medication of its animals. FDA issued a warning letter to the farm concerning these violations in 2009. After negotiations with the government, G&H and its principals have agreed to resolve its civil liability through a consent decree.
Under the consent decree, the defendants’ medication practices must be confirmed by the FDA as compliant with the law before G&H may sell cows for slaughter. In addition, the defendants are required to create and maintain documentation to address the problems that the FDA discovered during its inspections.
“It’s important to the health and safety of the American people that our farms adequately monitor and record how they using medications with their food-producing livestock, because failure to do so puts people at risk,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “Today’s consent decree requires G&H Dairy to establish procedures and keep documentation that will help ensure American consumers receive foods that are safe for themselves and their families.”
The matter was handled by Trial Attorneys Shannon Pedersen and David Sullivan of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant Chief Counsel Julie Doam of the Office of the General Counsel, Food and Drug Administration.