On April 3, 2015, U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Michael P. Ferry Inc., a dairy operation located in Westport, Massachusetts, and owner Michael P. Ferry after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration documented multiple violations of federal food laws. The U.S. Department of Justice sought the consent decree on behalf of the FDA.
The FDA inspected the dairy operation June 4 – 26, 2014, after testing done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found illegal levels of drug residues in animals that Ferry sold for slaughter. Illegal drug residues may pose a significant public health risk.
The FDA’s inspection found that the dairy operation administered drugs to its animals contrary to labeled directions and without a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship. Further, the defendants failed to administer drugs to animals with adequate control measures, such as keeping complete records to ensure that animals were not overmedicated or sent to slaughter too soon after treatment with animal drugs.
“When a company refuses to comply with food safety laws and regulations, the FDA must take legal action to protect public health,” said Daniel McChesney, Ph.D., director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance at the FDA. “We recognize that Michael P. Ferry Inc.’s agreement to this consent decree is the right first step, and we will continue to monitor the dairy to confirm that the terms of the agreement are met.”
The consent decree will prohibit the company and owner from selling animals for slaughter for human consumption until they have implemented record-keeping systems that will identify and track animals that have been treated with drugs. The systems must also ensure that drugs are not used in a manner contrary to the labeling without a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship. The defendants must also provide purchasers and consignees with written statements about the animals’ drug treatment status at the time of sale.
If the FDA finds that the company and owner are not in compliance with the decree, the agency may require them to cease selling and delivering any food animals, among other things. Failure to obey the terms of the consent decree could also result in civil or criminal penalties.