Animal & Veterinary
Consent Decree Entered in Tissue Residue Case Against Williams Cattle Company and Its Officers
February 10, 2006
On February 7, 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky entered a Consent Decree of Permanent Injunction against Williams Cattle Co., Inc., and its officers Elmer Lee Williams, Michael Lee Williams, Mark A. Williams, Pamela W. Collette, and Jewell Williams (collectively, the "defendants".)
Williams Cattle buys and sells cattle and delivers cattle for sale for slaughter as human food. Generally, the company purchases cattle at stockyards and auctions and delivers them directly to slaughterhouses. Williams Cattle does not medicate animals, but, due to the firm's inadequate recordkeeping practices, the firm has been responsible for delivering numerous cattle containing illegal drug residues for slaughter as human food.
Specifically, the United States Department of Agriculture/Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS) found illegal drug residues in edible tissues of animals delivered for slaughter by Williams Cattle between January 1995 and March 2005. USDA/FSIS found that the animals contained excessive levels of new animal drugs including gentamicin, penicillin, tilmicosin, and sulfadimethazine.
FDA inspections every year from 2001 to 2005 found that the defendants failed to prevent the purchase and sale of cattle containing illegal drug residues and failed to keep records sufficient to identify the cattle that they purchased and delivered for slaughter.
FDA is concerned about the sale of animals for slaughter for human food that may contain illegal levels of animal drugs because of their potential for adverse effects on human health. New animal drugs are approved by FDA with strict use requirements, including a specified time period to withdraw an animal from treatment prior to marketing, to assure the drug has depleted from edible tissue to a level that will not present harm to the consuming public.
Under the terms of the Consent Decree, the defendants must develop and implement a residue avoidance plan for the cattle that they handle. Among other things, the plan must include obtaining and maintaining medication/treatment records for each animal that they purchase or transport. Furthermore, if FDA notifies defendants that they are not in compliance with the terms of the Decree or the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, FDA may require defendants to cease operations until they are in compliance. The Decree also provides for defendants to pay a fine for each day they fail to comply with the Decree and for each animal that they sell or deliver for sale in violation of the Decree.
FDA's Cincinnati District Office conducted the investigation that led to this Consent Decree. FDA/CVM’s Division of Compliance, FDA’s Office of the Chief Counsel, the United States Department of Justice's Office of Consumer Litigation, and the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Kentucky were responsible for processing and filing the case.