US - A California beef slaughterhouse Rancho Feeding that was closed earlier this year after recalling 8.7 million pounds of beef products has been indicted by a federal grand jury and faces 11 charges.
The indictment charges three former employees at the plant – president and general manager Jesse “Babe” Amaral Jr, Rancho foreman Felix Cabrera and primary yard man Eugene Corda on counts connected to the recall.
Racho’s co-owner Robert Singleton is also indicted on a charge of distributing adulterated, misbranded and uninspected meat.
The indictment describes how cattle were bought for Rancho’s slaughter operations from auctions in Northern California and Nevada as well as from private farmers.
However, some of the cattle showed signs of epithelioma – lumps or other abnormalities around the eye and were less expensive than cattle that appeared completely healthy.
The indictment says that between 2012 and early 2014 Rancho employees were directed to process cattle that had been condemned by the USDA meat inspectors and employees were instructed to carve out the USDA Condemned stamps on the carcases.
Carcases of cattle that had cancer around the eye were swapped for ones which had been approved during lunch breaks and heads of healthy cattle were placed next to cattle carcases that had been condemned so that inspectors did not realise there had been a switch.
Between January 2013 and January 2014 meat from about 101 condemned cattle and about 79 cancer eye cows was distributed and entered the food chain.
The indictment also says that Rancho sent out fraudulent invoices to farmers charging fees for the disposal of condemned carcases.
The slaughterhouse in Petaluma, California was shut down earlier this year.
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