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Petaluma company recalls more than 40,000 lbs of meat

  • Cows wait to be butchered at Rancho Veal Slaughterhouse in Petaluma on Monday, January 13, 2014. Rancho Veal is the last remaining Bay Area slaughterhouse and recently had USDA agents and Petaluma police serve a search warrant. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Rancho Veal Corp., which operates the Bay Area's last major slaughterhouse in Petaluma, is recalling 41,683 pounds of meat that didn't receive a full federal inspection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday.

No illnesses have been reported, but a USDA press release Monday called the recalled meat "unfit for human food" due to the alleged lack of a complete inspection. The issue came to light as part of an ongoing investigation that brought federal agents and Petaluma police to the plant on Petaluma Boulevard North last week.

The meat, including carcasses and boxes of beef tongue, hearts and other items, was produced Wednesday and shipped to distribution centers and retailers in California, according to the press release.

The USDA on Monday listed six retailers in the Bay Area and one near Los Angeles that received the now-recalled meats. The list was considered preliminary and possibly incomplete.

Rancho Veal's owners, Jesse "Babe" Amaral and Robert Singleton, did not respond to requests for comment left Sunday and Monday at their homes, as well as at their business Monday.

Workers were present at the plant Monday, and some cattle stood in holding pens.

The Bay Area and North Coast used to have a number of slaughterhouses. Now, with the exception of a small processing plant for sheep and goats near Occidental, Rancho Veal is the sole animal processing facility for Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Lake and Mendocino counties.

"It's a significant part of our whole Sonoma County livestock industry," said Tim Tesconi, executive director of the county's Farm Bureau.

Rancho Veal's services include slaughter for the North Bay's high-end, grass-fed beef operations. The company reportedly began processing hogs in 2012.

Over the years, Rancho Veal has been targeted by animal rights activists. Police in 2000 said arsonists set fires at the plant and at two poultry operations also in Sonoma County. That same year animal rights activists demonstrated outside Rancho Veal.

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