Did Rancho cattle have cancer?

  • The Rancho Feeding Corp. slaughterhouse on Petaluma Blvd. North in Petaluma sits idle on Monday afternoon February 10, 2014, and has ceased operations after its recall of 8.7 million pounds of meat from 2013.

A criminal investigation into Rancho Feeding Corporation is examining allegations the Petaluma plant slaughtered cows with cancer and illegally sold the carcasses as healthy meat, according to a source with knowledge of the probe.

"Basically, Rancho had figured out a way to sell meat for profit that they would otherwise have had to destroy," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Federal investigators believe the heads of cows with eye cancer were cut off, apparently to remove evidence, the source said. Meat from the diseased cows was then mingled with healthy meat and sold under the Rancho brand, the source said.

Federal law forbids meat from diseased cows from being sold for human consumption.

The source said the USDA discovered a crucial piece of evidence when an investigator followed a Rancho truck from Petaluma to a meat rendering plant near Sacramento. Inside were cow heads that didn't match carcasses, the source said.

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