In April 2011, Boise Weekly chronicled what the Food and Drug Administration told BW was an "important potential public health issue" — an alarming amount of drug or antibiotic residues exceeding a safe or tolerable level in Idaho cows. BW's investigation found that there were 40 incidents reported at Idaho farms, including eight separate drugs and 11 violations of illegal limits of penicillin in the kidney alone. Eight were traced to flunixin, an anti-inflammatory analgesic, and six violations were traced to sulfadimethoxine, an antibiotic. There were four separate violations of the use of gentamicin (any trace of the drug is a violation). There were four more violations of tilmicosin (though it's not officially banned, its tolerance level is zero).
Some of the violations were off the charts. In July 2010, the FSIS discovered residue of flunixin in a cow traced to the Double A Dairy in Jerome. FSIS said the cow had flunixin 2,000 percent more than the allowed level. In another violation, a dairy cow traced back to a beef auction at the Producers Livestock Marketing Association in Jerome had sulfamethazine in its liver at 27,000 percent higher than the legal level.
This morning, the Associated Press reports that two Idaho cattle and dairy operations have agreed to "stop drugging cows at such high levels that the medications could pass to human consumers."
The agreement is part of a settlement to a lawsuit from the FDA, which accused T & T Cattle and T & T Cattle Pearl, both of Parma. The Food and Drug Administration alleged that animals at the farms contained "residues of unsafe new animal drugs [that] can cause serious allergic reactions in drug-sensitive consumers." The lawsuits came in the wake of a July 2012 report of high drug residue levels.
The AP's Rebecca Boone reports that the stipulation says a federal court will have oversight over the farm for five years, and that any future violations will cost the farms $1,000 a day until they are fixed.