Deputy Assistant Attorney General Arun G. Rao Delivers Remarks at the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society’s Distinguished Speaker Series
The Justice Department has filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against Michael P. Ferry Inc. and its owner, Michael P. Ferry (Ferry), to block them from violating the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) in connection with their alleged unlawful use of new animal drugs in cows slaughtered for food. The Justice Department filed the suit on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The defendants have agreed to settle the litigation and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction that enjoins them from committing violations of the FDCA. The proposed consent decree has been filed with the court and is awaiting judicial approval.
“Failing to maintain appropriate controls in food-producing animals bound for slaughter jeopardizes the public health,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The resolution of this matter ensures that, should it choose to re-enter business, this farm will have the necessary procedures in place to ensure that it delivers safe food to consumers.”
The defendants are primarily in the dairy business, but also sell cows for slaughter as food. Government inspections as recently as June 2014 revealed that Ferry sold animals for slaughter containing excessive and illegal drug residues in their edible tissues. The inspections also revealed that the defendants failed to maintain complete records concerning the medication of their animals. The FDA issued a warning letter to the farm concerning its violations in 2011 and also held a regulatory meeting with the farm in 2013 to discuss unlawful residues found in its cattle. The complaint states that consumers of edible animal tissues who are susceptible to antibiotics may experience severe allergic reactions as a result of ingesting food containing out-of-tolerance antibiotic levels. Furthermore, food containing above-tolerance antibiotic levels contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in those who eat or handle food containing residues of such drugs.
Under the consent decree, the defendants have agreed to shutter their business selling animals for slaughter. To resume selling cows for slaughter, the consent decree requires the defendants to take certain actions and institute measures that must be confirmed by the FDA as compliant.
This matter was handled by Trial Attorney David Sullivan of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Scott Kaplan of the FDA’s Office of the Chief Counsel.