The Food and Drug Administration has filed a civil lawsuit against a Washington State dairy, alleging it overused antibiotics for years and ignored repeated warnings to follow regulations over the past seven years.

Rhody Dairy, Sumas, Wash., and owner Jay De Jong are named in the lawsuit, filed Jan. 13 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington and the FDA. The violations stem from FDA inspections of the dairy in June 2004, March 2010 and July 2010.

During their inspections, the FDA officials uncovered multiple violations involving the failure to maintain complete antibiotic records, implement a system to control treatment administration and document the inventory, according to the FDA’s court complaint. Additionally, inspectors found Rhody Dairy employees dispensed new animal drugs against the manufacturer’s labeled directions and without the guidance of a licensed veterinarian.

The lawsuit alleges illegal residues of flunixin, penicillin, sulfadimethoxine and tetracycline have been found in Rhody Dairy cattle.

Rhody Dairy’s FDA violation history goes back to 2004, when a USDA test found excess flunixin residue in one of the dairy’s cows. Upon further inspection, FDA officials found evidence of inadequate drug records, the incorrect use of a drug, and the failure to review treatment records prior to slaughter.

Officials issued formal warnings to Rhody Dairy on each occasion, according to the lawsuit. The formal warning included a summary of the inspection and the legal consequences of failing to correct the violations.

The FDA believes that overdosing cows with antibiotics, such as penicillin and tetracycline, may contribute to antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases in consumers.

Rhody Dairy houses nearly 850 cows. The majority of the cows are used to produce Grade A milk. Around six percent of the cows are sold for slaughter and consumption.