You may have heard news of a USDA beef recall issued on February 8th for the Petaluma slaughter plant (Rancho Feeding Corp.). In an effort to be completely transparent, we want to address this issue with you, our customers, directly. Many of our cattle ranchers do in fact use this slaughter plant to harvest their animals. It is the only USDA-inspected facility within a 200-mile radius of the Bay Area and city environs, meaning the only place that small producers can take their animals without putting undo stress on them during transport. It is a family-owned, small scale, rather historic operation, and a very good plant with practices that have always allowed our ranchers to personally oversee the entire kill and processing of each of their animals.
For reasons that are not entirely clear yet, the USDA recall did NOT make any attempt to target the specific animal(s) of concern, which may or may not actually have been sick, but rather may have just been documented inappropriately. Instead, USDA issued a blanket recall for all beef slaughtered at the Rancho plant in 2013 in what we see as an act born of convenience and simplicity. Unfortunately, this includes much of the beef we sold in 2013. It is important to note that there have been NO known cases of human illness connected with any beef processed at the plant.
We have been provided only limited information about the specific facts leading to the recall but we want to share with you all what we have been told thus far from sources directly related to the situation: The recall was triggered by two cull dairy cows that were apparently processed without a full USDA inspection. As there is always a USDA inspector on site at the plant, it is our understanding that it was a clerical error made by the USDA inspector regarding inspecting the live cows and that Rancho has done nothing operationally wrong.
However, Rancho’s traditional careful slaughter processing always separates small local producers from the commodity dairy cows, slaughtering on different days and never allowing co-mingling between the animals. Thus, our cattle were never penned with ANY dairy cattle, nor was our meat EVER in contact with the commodity meat. Every one of our cattle killed at this plant was in excellent health at the time of slaughter, insured not just by Rancho, but by our trusted ranchers themselves. Every carcass was inspected upon arrival in our Butcher Shop. For all of these reasons, we know our animals and meat are safe and were properly handled. We are saddened that this recall will undoubtedly bankrupt Rancho Feeding Corp. which is a small, family run operation that services all of the Marin and Sonoma County ranchers. The real shame is that the brunt of the punishment is falling on the slaughterhouse and the ranchers that Rancho services, not the USDA inspectors.
We must comply fully with the recall at this point, but because we are confident about this process, and the safety of our meat, and because we are deeply troubled at the prospect of the destruction of thousands of pounds of good, locally-raised, and nutritious meat, we are actively exploring what can be done to help our ranchers have their beef removed from the USDA blanket recall.
We deeply regret this situation and apologize for the inconvenience. We will keep you informed about this matter as it progresses. Please know that all of our beef from January 1st 2014 on has not been slaughtered at Rancho and is thus not eligible for recall. Please call or email us if you have any questions or wish to discuss this matter further. As always, we welcome hearing from you and invite further dialogue on the matter. If you want to help, please call our local leaders to ask them to stand up. Common sense is the answer, not fear, uncertainty and doubt. Our leaders have been silent thus far and we need them to speak up.
David Rabbit – Supervisor for District (2) – you have to communicate with David through his website: supervisors.sonoma-county.org
Jared Huffman – U.S. Congressman: He only responds to his constituents, but here is a direct link to his contact form: https://huffman.house.gov/contact/email-me
Marin Supervisors: http://www.marincounty.org/depts/bs/contact-us
Please ask them to start communicating and investigating. Please ask them to do their jobs. Common sense has to prevail or our local ranchers and thus, The Local Butcher Shop, will not.
Monica and Aaron Rocchino