The US Department of Agriculture issued a Class 1 recall for the 9 million pounds of beef butchered at Rancho Feeding Corporation in 2013. A Class 1 recall means that the meat referred to poses serious health hazards or death consequence to consumers, and must be destroyed. In this case, the culprit is the Rancho Feeding Corporation (RFC), a slaughterhouse in northern California which allegedly processed sick cows without proper USDA inspection. This resulted in the recall and destruction of all meat processed by RFC in 2013. The worst part is that there’s more to the fiasco than what has been officially publicized.
The recall of processed meat encompasses all products containing beef from RFC in 2013. This means that beef carcasses, meat cuts, specialty beef parts (like oxtail), and even beef patties containing beef processed by RFC must be destroyed. These products are being pulled out of shops, freezers, and shelves. Large quantities were already sold, so consumers are advised to dispose of the items.
While the USDA has been explicit about the recall, it has been tight-lipped about the details. It has not officially issued any statement about the specific disease that ailed the cows, but inside information indicates that the cows suffered from eye cancer.
The problem with the recall is obvious: it’ll damage the small and medium players in the industry. Ranchers who responsibly and humanely produce healthy cows will jointly bear the impact of the irresponsibility of others. This means that the ranchers must get rid of whatever is left of their processed meat, resulting in huge losses that might throw them out of business.
Word has it that RFC deliberately evaded inspection by USDA to pass up the sick cows as healthy cows fit for human consumption. With USDA’s silence, however, there are suggestions that the breakdown in the process was due to an oversight by USDA. Nicolette Himan of the New York Times, who is a co-owner of BN Ranch, says that the problem was a result of inadequate number of slaughterhouses, and USDA people to conduct thorough inspection.
With all the shrouded mystery about the recall, news will still have to be heard of anyone getting sick or dying from consuming the unfit meat. While USDA maintains the health risks posed by the affected meat, experts say that eye cancer in cows seldom causes an outbreak.