Feds post partial recall list of Rancho meats retailers

Federal regulators posted a partial list of retailers Monday that have been asked to return meat processed by Rancho Feeding Corp., the Petaluma slaughterhouse recalling 8.7 million pounds of beef products.

Staff were working Monday at the Petaluma Boulevard North facility but declined comment on the growing recall, which began Jan. 13 and expanded Saturday to include all meat processed at Rancho in 2013.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Rancho had voluntarily ceased operations, citing a statement from Scott Parks, the plant's quality control manager. Parks could not be reached comment Monday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Rancho processed "diseased and unsound animals" outside the presence of federal inspectors. The meat products are "unsound, unwholesome or otherwise are unfit for human food" and must be removed from commerce, according to the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The USDA reported it has received no reports of illness connected to the recalled meat.

The agency released a list of 13 retailers — all in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties — that have been asked to return meat processed by Rancho. They include: G&G Market stores in Santa Rosa and Petaluma; Bud's Meats in Penngrove; Petaluma Market in Petaluma; Willowside Meats, Carniceria Coalcoman, Carniceria Contreras and Carolina Wild, all in Santa Rosa; Sonoma Market in Sonoma; Brown's Valley Market, La Morenita and Vallergas Market, all in Napa; Apple Market in Novato; and Azteca Market in San Rafael.

Some stores, including G&G and Sonoma Market, said they no longer had any products in stock from Rancho.

Jamie Downing, general manager at Petaluma Market, said the store pulled a small amount of meat it had from Rancho on Sunday after staff heard about the recall.

The meat was produced between Jan. 1, 2013 and Jan. 7, 2014 and shipped to distribution centers and retail establishments in California, Florida, Illinois and Texas, according to the USDA.

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 issue came to light on Jan. 10 when federal agents, accompanied by Petaluma police, searched the plant as part of an ongoing investigation. Three days later, the USDA announced that Rancho was recalling 41,683 pounds of meat that didn't receive a full federal inspection.

On Saturday, the recall was expanded to cover 8.7 million pounds of meat.

Calls to the plant, co-owned by Jesse "Babe" Amaral and Robert Singleton, were not answered Sunday. A woman answering the door at Amaral's home declined to comment Monday.

Rancho is the only USDA-inspected animal processing facility in Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Lake and Mendocino counties, with the exception of a small plant for sheep and goats near Occidental.

For the North Bay beef and dairy industry, the main question was whether the region's sole processing facility could survive the latest recall.

"Without it, our (beef) producers would be really hard-pressed to stay in business," said Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar.