Following a criminal investigation conducted at Rancho Feeding Corp. — the Petaluma slaughterhouse which earlier this year recalled approximately 8.7 million pounds of beef connected with dairy cows with a condition known as “cancer eye” that often indicates cancer elsewhere in the body — a federal grand jury has charged employees at the now-shuttered slaughterhouse with 11 felony counts, according to KQED.
Rancho Feeding Corp. co-owner Jesse J. Amaral Jr. and two employees have been charged with a number of felonies for knowingly processing diseased cattle between mid-2012 and January 2014.
According to the federal indictment, a foreperson on the slaughterhouse’s “kill floor” was responsible for switching uninspected cows for cows that had already passed inspection, and then chopping off the heads of the diseased cows, which exhibited clear signs of illness, to avoid detection.
“This switch and slaughter of uninspected cancer eye cows occurred during the inspectors’ lunch breaks, a time during which plant operations were supposed to cease. When the inspectors returned from lunch for post mortem inspections, they were unaware that the carcasses they were inspecting belonged to cancer eye cows that had escaped ante mortem inspection.”
For each condemned carcass or uninspected cancer eye cow which evaded detection, Rancho’s foreperson was paid $50.
Among the charges against those involved in Rancho’s massive scandal include the distribution of adulterated and misbranded meat (employees were instructed to "carve ‘USDA Condemned’ stamp out of the cattle carcasses" so they could be processed and sold), mail fraud (for creating false invoices to farmers for the disposal of condemned cows, though they were processed for human consumption), and conspiracy.
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.