Meat is a hot subject as the fallout from Rancho Feeding Corporation product recalls spreads across America and Canada. Over 8 million pounds of meat will be recalled, hitting big chains like Walmart, Kroger and Sam’s Club. Consumers were urged to return household favorites like beef jerky and frozen Hot Pocket sandwiches. The food distributors involved have jumped from just 100 to over a 1,000 in the past few days.
It is estimated that over 29 states will be affected by the recall, though the total number has not been completely established. The slaughterhouse involved – Petaluma Boulevard North, CA – also supplies Canada through various distribution channels. Up to five provinces in Canada have also been affected by the recall.
It all started when the Department of Agriculture raised the red flag that diseased and unsound animals were processed without the necessary inspections. While there have been no reports of consumer illness, the investigation continues.
The company is now facing a 2 tier investigation from the USDA, including the Inspector General and its Food Safety and Inspection Service. The owners claim they underwent the recall out of caution, but declined to comment further on the investigation.
Other regional chains to be impacted by the fallout include: Kroger, Food 4 Less and Fred Meyer as well as Raley’s. Nestlé also announced a voluntary recall of Hot Pocket sandwiches. However, it asked customers to first check barcodes to help the company determine the origins of the meat and the processing plant involved. Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets, produced in a Californian plant were also listed in the Nestlé recall. While the company does not purchase meat directly from Rancho, it admitted that the meat was purchased at some point in the supply chain.
Supermarket giant Walmart followed suit asking customers to return Hot Pocket sandwiches. This was on top of a larger frozen hamburger recall to hit Jensen Meat Company, which distributes to Walmart branches in 16 states.
Supply chains are often complex and not always transparent. A major recall impacted Britain in October of last year, when supermarket giant Tesco was accused of sourcing horse meat from Eastern European slaughter houses. Up to 29 percent of the meat found in the store’s hamburgers was made up of horse meat. British consumers were understandably outraged and frustrated at the lack of transparency and regulation in supply chains. Arguably, the greatest crime was not concealing the origin of the meat, but the gross abuse of animal welfare.
One of the main issues in the European investigation was pinpointing when mislabeling occurred. Similarly, the main issue in the Rancho recall will be to understand how diseased beef was processed without the necessary inspections.
Jensen Meat Company reports it has ceased all business with Rancho, claiming that the product recall came as a shock given the company’s strong commitment to food safety. Chief operating officer, Abel Olivera said they expected the same level of commitment from its vendors. CBS recently announced Arizona Walmart branches were the latest to be hit by meat recalls.
By Simone Innamorati