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80 food distributors asked to return Rancho meat

  • Operations at the Rancho Veal Slaughterhouse are stopped after Rancho Veal Slaughterhouse after 8.7 million pounds of beef products was recently recalled in Petaluma on Thursday, February 13, 2014. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

The list of food distributors identified as having received some of the 8.7 million pounds of recalled meat handled by Rancho Feeding Corporation swelled to 80 on Friday, including schools, nonprofit agencies, food banks and churches throughout Sonoma County.

Rancho voluntarily recalled all meat processed at the Petaluma slaughterhouse in 2013 and the first week of this year in response to two investigations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The company, the last slaughterhouse in the North Bay, has ceased operations.

The USDA said in the recall that Rancho "processed diseased and unsound animals" without a full inspection. 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.

No one in the past year has reported becoming ill from consuming the meat, which includes entire sides of beef, custom-ordered cuts, ground beef, tripe, glands, tongues and various veal cuts.

Despite numerous requests for further explanation, the USDA hasn't described what its investigators allege Rancho and its employees did.

That void of information has infuriated local ranchers and meat purveyors that have worked with Rancho for years, who say they are living under a shadow of the "diseased and unsound animals" allegation.

Rancho owners Robert Singleton and Jesse "Babe" Amaral have declined to comment on the recall.

A "retail distribution list" updated Friday by the USDA identifies 80 markets, butcher shops, churches, meat co-ops, schools, food banks and other nonprofit agencies the agency said received meat slaughtered at Rancho. It was shipped to distribution centers and retail shops in California, Florida, Illinois, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Seventy-four of them are in California, three in Washington, two in Oregon and one in Florida.

Thirty are in Sonoma County, six in Napa County, five in Marin County and two in Lake County.


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