Faith-based food safety: Slaughterhouse owner sentenced for selling meat from sick cattle

A California slaughterhouse owner who admitted ordering the sale of meat from ailing and uninspected cattle — leading to a nationwide recall of 8.7 million pounds of beef and veal products in 2014 — was sentenced Wednesday to a year in federal prison.

Rancho-Feeding-CorpJesse Amaral, 78, of Petaluma, former president of Rancho Feeding Corp., pleaded guilty a year ago to conspiracy to distribute adulterated and misbranded meat. Robert Singleton, owner of Rancho Veal Corp., which purchased cattle for the Petaluma slaughterhouse, and two slaughterhouse employees have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing in March.

Amaral admitted ordering employees between 2012 and January 2014 to process cattle that had been condemned by a government veterinarian — meaning they were unfit for human consumption — and to avoid full inspection of cattle suffering from epitherlioma, or eye cancer.

Prosecutors said he told the employees to deceive inspectors by putting the heads of cows that had been healthy next to the carcasses of decapitated cows that had eye cancer. He also directed employees to use carvers to remove “condemned” stamps from cattle carcasses, prosecutors said. Amaral also admitted sending fraudulent invoices to cattle farmers telling them their cattle had died or had been condemned rather than slaughtered and sold.

Former California slaughterhouse owner pleads guilty to selling diseased meat

The co-owner of a Petaluma slaughterhouse tied to a massive meat recall pleaded guilty to charges of selling cows with eye cancer and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against three other defendants.

imagesRobert Singleton, 77, faces up to three years in prison and is free on $50,000 bond, according to a copy of the plea agreement, which was reached Friday.

Singleton co-owned Rancho Feeding Corp., which was shut down in February by federal inspectors after a recall of nearly 9 million pounds of meat.

The recall included grocery chains such as Kroger, Food 4 Less and Wal-Mart. Nestle also issued a voluntary recall for its Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets.

Singleton admitted purchasing cows exhibiting eye cancer, which is deemed unfit for human consumption, according to federal laws.

Workers severed the heads of those cows to disguise them as healthy cows for processing and inspection.


It’s all about knowing your supplier (sic); Rancho Feeding Corp. in US charged with selling sick, unfit cattle

A federal grand jury has indicted Rancho Feeding Corp., the Petaluma, California, slaughterhouse at the center of a massive beef recall, for processing animals condemned by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors and processing others that were known to have eye cancer.

Rancho Feeding CorpThe indictment, dated last Thursday, charges Rancho co-owner Jesse J. Amaral Jr. and two workers, foreperson Felix Sandoval Cabrera and yardperson Eugene D. Corda, with 11 felony counts, including distribution of adulterated and misbranded meat, mail fraud and conspiracy. Amaral pleaded not guilty during a Monday morning hearing and was released on $50,000 bail. The status of Cabrera and Corda is still pending.

In a filing Monday, prosecutors informed U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer that Rancho’s co-owner, Robert Singleton, will be indicted on a single count of distributing adulterated, misbranded and uninspected meat. The filing says the U.S. Attorney’s Office anticipates that Singleton will plead guilty and cooperate with prosecution of the other Rancho defendants. The main indictment, which does not name Singleton as a defendant, refers to him only as “R.S.”

The indictment alleges that Amaral and R.S. directed employees to circumvent inspection procedures for cows that exhibited signs of epithelioma, including lumps and other abnormalities around the eyes, from mid-2012 until January 2014.

According to the indictment, Cabrera, the foreperson, swapped uninspected cows for cattle that had already passed inspection and were awaiting slaughter. Then employees slaughtered the cancerous cattle and deposited their heads in a gut bin, the indictment says. Employees then allegedly placed the heads from apparently healthy cattle next to the carcasses of the diseased cattle during the inspectors’ lunch breaks.

Employees are also said to have carved out “USDA Condemned” stamps from other carcasses.