A shortage of inspectors in the meat industry raises the specter of contaminated meat on the dinner tables of America. What you do not know can hurt you.
In early February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a recall of more than 8 million pounds of meat processed by Rancho Feeding Corporation in Petaluma. The USDA believes the meat was shipped to processors and distributors throughout the United States, including California, during the first week of January.
Reasons for the recall include:
The processing of diseased and unsound animals
The adulteration of meat bound for the food supply
Inadequate federal inspection
Shifting rules at the USDA allow employees of poultry producers to inspect their own products. In reducing the need for federal inspectors, the USDA intends to use less expensive temporary food inspectors when and where needed. These actions could lead to minimal oversight, lack of federal inspectors and the type of recall that occurred at Rancho Feed Corp.
A February 10, 2014 letter to the USDA from a food safety group requested agency review of deficiencies, staffing vacancies and hiring rules that could lead to an increase in food recalls and affect food supply safety.
Federal officials have received no report of injury or death from this round of contaminated meat. After the recall, Rancho Feed ceased business and is in the process of being sold to Marin Sun Farms. Marin Sun is located in Point Reyes Station. It advocates for sustainable farming and produces pasture-raised livestock.
Food safety in the United States is a serious concern. The danger of injury or death from adulterated domestic and imported food products exists.