Feds win lawsuit over drugs in Michigan cows

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- A western Michigan farm violated federal law by selling cows for human food with illegal levels of antibiotics, a judge said.

U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist didn't order a penalty but told Scenic View Dairy and government regulators to come up with an agreement by the end of September.

"It is not the court's intent to put Scenic View out of business," Quist wrote last week.

"This company has many cows to take care of, and we cannot always expect perfection," he said. "However, the nature of the products being sold by Scenic View, if insanitary, for example, have the potential of creating disaster for individuals and even loss of confidence in the nation's food supply."

The judge said better record keeping might prevent future problems.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration filed a lawsuit a year ago, accusing Scenic View of repeatedly ignoring warnings about selling cows with high antibiotic residue for human food. With 10,000 cows, the Allegan County farm's main business is milk, but dozens of cows typically are sold to slaughterhouses each week.

The FDA says eating beef with certain levels of antibiotics, such as penicillin, can cause harmful reactions to people who may be allergic. There is no allegation that anyone got sick from Scenic View cows. Since 2002, inspectors said they detected high levels of drugs at least 11 times.

In response to the lawsuit, Scenic View denied any health threat and said any violations were old and insignificant at a farm with thousands of cows. The farm said there also may be exceptions to the rules that fit the case. The judge disagreed.

A message seeking comment was left Wednesday at Scenic View, which is based in Hamilton. The case involved cows in Freeport in Barry County, Gowen in Montcalm County and Fennville in Allegan County.

The "violative conduct not only extends to all three farms, but has continued over several years despite repeated notices from the FDA that defendants needed to bring their operation into compliance and how they could do so," the judge said.

Published: Fri, Sep 9, 2011