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New details emerge on beef recall that impacted Florida consumers

Earlier this year we talked about a large beef recall by Rancho Feeding Corp. The meat, as we noted, was distributed to four states, including Florida. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, it had not been fully inspected and reportedly came from unhealthy and in fact diseased animals. Now a CNN investigation has discovered even more disturbing information about the cows slaughtered to make this meat — nine million pounds of which was recalled — and just how it got into supermarkets.

Reportedly, the USDA investigation found that the cows were slaughtered and the meat was processed when no government inspectors were present. Some of these cows, according to the USDA, had eye cancer. The details are too gruesome to go into here, but investigators believe that Rancho employees removed the diseased sections of the animals and marked the meat with a false approval stamp.

An lawyer for the man whom CNN identified in another report as one of the company’s former owners, admitted that some cows were not properly inspected. He called his client “extremely remorseful” and said he is cooperating with federal prosecutors leading the investigation.

More wrongdoing has also been discovered involving a government inspector who was reportedly involved in a relationship with a foreman at the plant. Emails and texts provide evidence of the romantic relationship between the two, and the foreman has admitted to consorting with the female inspector.

Federal prosecutors reportedly intend to file charges against the former owners of the plant. However, some think the USDA is not blameless, despite the fact that the inspector involved in the relationship with the plant employee apparently did complain about the use of diseased cows. The congressman who represents the district where the activity occurred said that in order for this much bad meat to make it to market, “something must have broken down in their [USDA’s] process.”

Food recalls can be frightening for Florida consumers. We rely on government regulatory agencies to monitor the processes of farmers and manufacturers to ensure that they adhere to safety regulations even if it hurts their bottom line. However, federal inspectors cannot be everywhere. When defective products enter our food system due to the negligence or misconduct of food producers, they can and should be held responsible and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Source: CNN, “Unfit for Human Consumption: How nearly 9 million pounds of bad meat escaped into the food supply” Chris Frates and Shannon Travis, May. 02, 2014

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