California slaughterhouse under criminal probe

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California slaughterhouse under criminal probe

PETALUMA, Calif. — A congressman says federal officials have launched a criminal probe of a Northern California slaughterhouse that recently recalled more than 8.7 million pounds of beef.

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman told the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa on Monday that he learned about the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s investigation of Petaluma-based Rancho Feeding Corp. during a telephone call with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Huffman said investigators could not provide details, but he was told the suspected misconduct was grave.

The USDA has said Rancho processed diseased and unhealthy animals and circumvented federal inspection rules. The recalled beef was sold at Walmart and other national chains and used in products, including Hot Pockets.

Three Clark County businesses sold meat included in the recall. Those retailers are Butcher Boys, 4710 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., in Vancouver; the Shell station at 16320 S.E. Cascade Park Drive in Vancouver; and Brush Prairie General Store, 15320 N.E. Caples Road, in Brush Prairie. Managers and owners at the three outlets said they received and sold small quantities of meat from Rancho last year.

Robert Singleton, a partner in Rancho, has denied the allegations and said he was unaware of a criminal investigation