Inspector, Boss at Beef Recall Plant Had Relationship: New Report

Owner says romance unrelated to 9M-pound recall
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2014 2:11 PM CDT
Inspector, Boss at Beef Recall Plant Had Relationship: New Report
In this January 13, 2014 photo, cows wait to be butchered at Rancho Veal Slaughterhouse in Petaluma, Calif.   (AP Photo/The Press Democrat, Conner Jay)

Remember that Hot Pocket recall earlier this year? A new investigation is revealing new details about the Rancho Feeding Corp. plant at the center of the story involving 9 million pounds of beef. Documents show that a USDA inspector at the California plant had an illicit relationship with its foreman, CNN reports. The foreman "said he went to her trailer three different times and they were intimate," an assistant plant manager wrote in an email to the USDA. A text from inspector Lynnette Thompson eventually asks the foreman to "play dumb please 4 my kids delete every thing k."

USDA ethics rules say workers shouldn't be sent to sites where "they are engaged in a personal relationship with an establishment employee," CNN notes. A former owner of the plant, however, says the relationship was unrelated to the recall—and documents suggest that Thompson fought the plant over its use of diseased cows. Investigators say the plant purchased cows with eye cancer, waiting until inspectors weren't around to process them. They allegedly covered their tracks by removing cancerous parts of the animals, including replacing sick cows' heads with healthy ones. Workers at the plant also used fake approval stamps, insiders tell CNN. (More Hot Pockets stories.)

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