The Rancho Feeding Corp. beef recall just potentially got even more disgusting: The federal government is investigating the slaughterhouse for allegedly buying cows with eye cancer—and chopping off their heads so the disease couldn't be detected by inspectors, sources tell the San Francisco Chronicle. "Because the carcass looked good, (Rancho) mixed it back in with other beef that it sold under its label," a source says. And there's no way Rancho would have missed the disease, a cattleman who has worked with Rancho for 40 years and saw all his 2013 beef caught up in the recall tells the Village Voice: "It's a growth on the eye, this is not a microbial situation." The good news, if you want to call it that, is that though such a practice is illegal, experts say eating the meat in question probably won't make you sick, and no recall-related illnesses have been reported.
Investigators got their first whiff of the problem in January, when Rancho separately recalled more than 40,000 pounds of meat that had not been properly inspected; at that time, investigators reportedly found two infected cattle heads. Private cattle producers who used Rancho for custom slaughtering have found themselves caught up in the recall, despite the fact that they produce what the Chronicle refers to as "local, natural, and high-end beef." The USDA wants to be certain none of the tainted meat somehow mixed with the healthy meat, and says a team will meet with producers who can prove their beef was kept separate; they might get "relief" from the recall. (Read more beef recall stories.)