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CA Producer Behind Huge Beef Recall Halts Operations; USDA Investigates

Rancho Feeding Corp. of Petaluma, CA, the beef producer that recalled 8.7 million pounds of meat on Saturday, has halted operations as personnel attempt to help locate any remaining shipments made in 2013.

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it is conducting an investigation into the company’s facilities. The agency has directed an “immediate and thorough” examination of the firm’s practices, procedures and management, according to a USDA spokesperson.

Food safety attorney Bill Marler called the USDA’s move unusual, saying the investigation opens the potential to discover criminal wrongdoing if it reveals that the company knew it was shipping adulterated products. (Marler’s Seattle-based law firm, Marler Clark, underwrites Food Safety News.)

The company has recalled all beef products made between Jan. 1, 2013, and Jan. 7, 2014, due to processing “diseased and unsound” animals and doing so without full federal inspection. Because of that, the products are considered adulterated and fall under the rules of a Class 1 recall, suggesting a “reasonable probability” that the products pose a health hazard.

That said, neither USDA nor Rancho Feeding Corp. have received any reports of illness connected to the products. However, due to the difficulty associated with tracing illnesses to specific food products, it is impossible to guarantee that no one has fallen ill.

That USDA spokesperson also told Food Safety News that the agency is still working to produce a list of retailers in California, Florida, Illinois and Texas who sold the products, which included recalled whole carcasses, liver, tripe and oxtail.

Thus far, USDA has only revealed a handful of California neighborhood grocery markets in their retailer distribution list:

  • Brown’s Valley Market, 3263 Browns Valley Rd., Napa
  • La Morenita, 2436 Jefferson, Napa
  • Vallergas Market, 2139 1st St., Napa
  • Apple Market, 155 San Marin Dr., Novato
  • Los Mexicanos, 1244 High St., Oakland
  • Los Primos, 4095 Foothill Blvd., Oakland
  • Mi Ranchito, 3326 Foothill Blvd., Oakland
  • Bud’s Meats, 7750 Petaluma Hill Rd., Penngrove
  • G & G, 701 Sonoma Mtn. Pkwy., Petaluma
  • Petaluma Market, 210 Western Ave., Petaluma
  • La Esmeralda, 1330 Market St., San Pablo
  • Azteca Market, 802 4th St., San Rafael
  • Carniceria Coalcoman, 1415 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa
  • Carniceria Contreras, 1401 Todd Rd., Santa Rosa
  • Carolina Wild, 5380 Aero Dr., Santa Rosa
  • G & G, 1211 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa
  • Willowside Meats, 3421 Guernville Rd., Santa Rosa
  • Sonoma Market, 500 W. Napa, Sonoma

USDA has not indicated when the retail distribution list will be updated to include retailers from additional states. However, the agency has indicated that potential consumers identified through traceback efforts are being notified of the recall. If any consumers believe they have purchased some of the recalled product, USDA is advising that they discard it or return it for a refund.

The agency did not specify how consumers can determine that they purchased the recalled meat without knowing which stores carried it. And, considering the recalled meat includes products more than a year old, many consumers will have already eaten it.

The following is the complete list of recalled products sent to retailers:

  • “Beef Carcasses” (wholesale and custom sales only)
  • 2 per box “Beef (Market) Heads” (retail only)
  • 4-gallons per box “Beef Blood” (wholesale only)
  • 20-lb. boxes of “Beef Oxtail”
  • 30-lb. boxes of “Beef Cheeks”
  • 30-lb. boxes of ” Beef Lips”
  • 30-lb. boxes of “Beef Omasum”
  • 30-lb. boxes of “Beef Tripas”
  • 30-lb. boxes of “Mountain Oysters”
  • 30-lb. boxes of “Sweet Breads”
  • 30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Beef Liver”
  • 30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Beef Tripe”
  • 30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Beef Tongue”
  • 30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Veal Cuts”
  • 40-lb. boxes of “Veal Bones”
  • 50-lb. boxes of “Beef Feet”
  • 50-lb. boxes of “Beef Hearts”
  • 60-lb. boxes of “Veal Trim”

Beef carcasses and boxes bear the establishment number “EST. 527″ inside the USDA mark of inspection. Each box bears the case code number ending in “3” or “4.” The products were produced Jan. 1, 2013, through January 7, 2014, and shipped to distribution centers and retail establishments in California, Florida, Illinois and Texas.

© Food Safety News
  • heavyhanded

    Did rancho forge the usda inspection mark for a whole year, or did a usda inspector unknowingly allow 9 million lbs into the marketplace?

    • John Munsell

      Heavyhanded: FSIS has the evidence to answer your questions, but for some reason, is being closed-lipped. The longer the agency maintains its cloak of secrecy, the greater justification we have for assuming the agency shares liability in this debacle, which is my belief. How could this go on for a full year with agency inspectors being totally in the dark? John Munsell

      • doc raymond

        John, with all due respect, it has been announced that the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General is investigating this company for possible criminal charges. The FSIS cannot comment while that investigation is underway. If the PHV marked an animal as suspect, then went back into the plant to examine carcasses, the company could hustle that critter thru the knock box while no one was looking. Just suggesting a possible scenario similar to what took place at Westland Hallmark. It does not have to occur every day to create a one year recall.

        • John Munsell

          Hi Doc. I’m surprised that FSIS couldn’t reveal a bare minimum of “unclassified” data in its initial Recall Press Release, something like stating “outside of the normal hours of operation”. There must have been obvious, severe examples of eggregious noncompliance with agency policies for FSIS to have withdrawn inspection, and to “suggest” a recall of 12 months’ production. And, absolutely none of it available for public release? I’m dubious here. John

  • O_Scotty

    Wow! 9 M pounds, how many animals does that represent??

  • Randy Francis

    Still no word as to which pathogens or contaminants are in question?

  • flameforjustice

    I know there are cultures and/or people who enjoy eating anything and everything on a food animal. Maybe those consumers should try eating different parts of the animal.

  • Barb3000

    Does anyone know what beef feet are used for? I have never heard of using cow feet for anything.