Rancho Feeding Corporation, the Bay Area slaughterhouse, is under investigation for the processing and selling of diseased and unsound cattle that did not undergo the required federal inspection. The slaughterhouse was ordered to recall 9 million pounds of the contaminated beef. According to a recent article from the LA Times, the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service found evidence that the corporation sold cattle affected by diseases such as epithelioma of the eye, a form of cancer.
Regulators said they found two cattle heads that made it to the market that were missing the incisions that indicate proper inspection of the animal before slaughter.
There are no reported illnesses linked to the company’s meat, but the corporation is being investigated for criminal wrongdoing by the USDA’s inspector general.
The recall affects thousands of retail chains who purchased the meat including Kroger, Food 4 Less, and Walmart and has led to voluntary recalls by other food companies, such as Nestle Hot Pockets, who used Rancho as a supplier.
The recalled beef had been shipped to distribution centers and retailers in six different states including California, Oregon, and Texas.
So far, Rancho Feeding has refused to comment on the recall or the allegations that they failed to meet regulation inspection standards.
Under the legal theory of strict product liability, any person who may have been affected by the potentially dangerous meat needs to show that the food product was contaminated due to the negligence of the manufacturer or supplier, and that the contamination was the cause of illness.
If the company is proven to have bypassed the animal inspection process, and to have sold the meat of sick animals, it could mean charges for the negligence and not meeting health requirements.
Rancho is the last slaughterhouse in the Bay Area, and federal inspectors have stated that another farm on the West Coast has submitted a request to take over Rancho’s operations.