Beef Recall Probe Uncovers Affair Between Inspector, Plant Foreman

Image: Beef Recall Probe Uncovers Affair Between Inspector, Plant Foreman In this January 2014 photo, cows wait to be butchered at Rancho Veal Slaughterhouse in Petaluma, Calif. Rancho Feeding Corp.

Monday, 05 May 2014 08:09 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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An investigation into the Rancho Feeding Corp. beef recall has uncovered multiple instances of misconduct that led to the sale of diseased meat, including a romantic affair between a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector and a plant foreman.

The Petaluma, California, slaughterhouse recalled nearly 9 million pounds of beef in February after it was discovered that the facility "processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out these activities without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection," according to a USDA press release.

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According to a government probe, Rancho was "buying diseased dairy cows and processing them when government inspectors weren’t there; after the cows were killed, employees would hide the warning signs of cancer by trimming off diseased parts, using a fake stamp of approval or even replacing the heads of sick cows with ones from healthy animals," CNN reported.

Rancho Feeding Corp. was later sold.

The beef recall investigation also blew the lid off a romantic affair between inspector Lynette Thompson and a plant foreman, but a lawyer for one of Rancho's former owners insists that the relationship was not connected to the recall in any way.

But some, like U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, think the USDA may still be hiding something.

"One would speculate at this point that in order for there [to] have been a deception that allowed a whole bunch of improperly processed meat to get certified for sale, someone at USDA was deceived," Huffman told CNN. "Something must have broken down in their process too. So, in the absence of information, I am left to believe that maybe they’re a little concerned that they dropped the ball, too."

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