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"None of Bill Niman's cows, or the meat from other local custom beef ranchers, were in any way tainted, diseased or uninspected. The records and documentation obtained by federal investigators support this fact," attorney Jeffrey Bornstein said in a statement.

The statement, notably, made no reference to meat sold under the Rancho brand.

Bornstein declined to discuss the allegations that Rancho knowingly sent diseased carcasses to market. Nor would he comment on why the statement did not address USDA allegations about diseased meat and the circumvention of the inspection process.

"He (Amaral) is simply trying to make sure that it's clear that there are no doubts that the meat that Mr. Niman has, and that other custom local ranchers have, is absolutely wholesome and fully inspected," Bornstein said.

Amaral and Rancho are cooperating with federal investigators, Bornstein said.

"He is very sorry for any impact that this situation has caused to his customers and the meat-buying public," the statement said.

The USDA has been silent on most matters related to the recall and investigation. That has frustrated North Coast legislators trying to help Niman and other ranchers prove their beef was properly inspected, fully healthy and not mingled with diseased meat.

"If we could just get some facts from USDA I think these producers could demonstrate that. But the problem is USDA has put out this sweeping recall and won't tell anyone what happened," said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who was briefed Monday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"The secretary felt that he was unable to share specifics with us because of the pending investigation," Huffman said. "I get no facts beyond what was already reported in the media."

"They have been pretty tight-lipped on anything," said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who was on the telephone briefing with Vilsack.

"There's some things that the secretary told me that I was asked not to disclose," said Thompson, "but it's very little and doesn't amount to a hill of beans. It wasn't very earth shattering."

Staff Writer Robert Digitale contributed to this story.