One of the largest beef recalls in recent history occurred earlier this year when Rancho
Feeding Corporation was forced to recall almost nine million pounds of tainted meat from
thousands of stores nationwide. CNN says it has obtained documents showing how the
products deemed “unfit for human food” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found their
way to market.
In a bizarre twist to the story, CNN also discovered an USDA email showing that one of
the government inspectors was involved in a romantic relationship with a plant foreman.
The investigation of the plant began at the beginning of this year after USDA received a
tip-off from a former Rancho employee. The Petaluma plant was raided by federal marshals
who seized numerous documents. The first beef recall notice was issued a few days later.
In a shocking revelation, investigators discovered that the company was purchasing diseased
cows, and slaughtering and processing them when government inspectors were not present.
Employees so far unidentified trimmed off parts of the animals that showed possible signs of
cancer. They covered their actions by using fake approval stamps. The other actions being
covered up were of a more “romantic” nature. An assistant Rancho plant manager blew the
whistle on USDA Inspector Lynette Thompson by sending an email alleging that she was
having an illicit relationship with the plant foreman.
The email went into quite graphic detail: “He said he went to her trailer three different times
and they were intimate. She also sent him a picture of her naked backside in a tanning salon
to his cell phone.”
Of course, USDA has strict rules of conduct set out in its ethics manual. For example, employees
are not to be assigned to an establishment where “they are engaged in a personal relationship
with an establishment employee.” Jesse Amaral, one of Rancho’s former owners said that the
relationship between the government inspector and plant foreman had no connection to the recall.
However, his attorney, Jeffrey Bornstein, admitted that his client had made some mistakes.
In a statement he said:
“There were opportunities for cows to have gone through the process without proper inspection
or otherwise properly being handled. He takes responsibility for mistakes in judgment that were
made. He regrets not being better able to recognize, respond and stop some of these alleged
bad practices earlier. He’s extremely remorseful.”
This beef recall was one of a series that have taken place in recent years. Considering that very
few people have actually been made ill by the beef, it seems that the control system usually works.
But no system can really take account of human emotions where sex is involved.