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Mike Thompson upset with lack of information on Rancho recall (w/video)

Intelligence Committee. Despite being trusted with such high-level secrets, he said, the USDA "can't tell me about an issue that's affecting my constituents. It's troubling."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has asserted that Rancho "processed diseased animals" without a full inspection. The USDA has not received any reports of illness linked to the meat, the agency said Wednesday.

The USDA probe came to light Jan. 10 when federal agents and Petaluma police converged on the plant on Petaluma Boulevard North.

The first recall, announced Jan. 13, initially covered meat processed on a single day. Rancho expanded the recall Feb. 8 to include all 8.7 million pounds of beef processed at its plant in 2013.

More than 1,600 food distributors in the United States and Canada are now recalling beef and other products made with Rancho meat, including two types of Hot Pockets frozen sandwiches and some frozen hamburger patties sold at Walmart.

On Wednesday, six specific batches of El Monterey's Beef & Cheese Taquitos and Ranchero Steak Tornados, which are distributed in the U.S. and Canada, were added to the recall list. The two products are made by Ruiz Food Products in Dinuba.

Rancho operates the last slaughterhouse for cattle in the North Bay, a small plant that processes both older dairy cows and the niche, pasture-raised beef.

The company announced last week that it has ceased operations at its plant on Petaluma Boulevard North. One of its owners said Rancho undertook the recall "out of an abundance of caution," but declined to answer further questions.

Along with the recall, the USDA has revealed that the department is conducting a two-pronged investigation of the company. Both its Office of Inspector General and its Food Safety and Inspection Service are conducting separate probes of Rancho.

Neither Rancho's owners nor the USDA responded Wednesday to requests for comment on Thompson's concerns.


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