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Rancho Feeding recall expands across U.S. (w/video)

  • Rancho Feeding Corp.'s Petaluma slaughterhouse on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. (PD FILE, 2014)

Rancho Feeding Corporation's beef recall expanded across the United States and into Canada on Tuesday, as corporate giants such as Walmart and Nestlé warned consumers to return items ranging from beef jerky to frozen Hot Pocket sandwiches.

The food distributors named in the recall grew from fewer than 100 establishments on Saturday to more than 1,000 on Tuesday afternoon. The recall by the Petaluma slaughterhouse now affects retailers in 29 states and five Canadian provinces, according to government and company websites.

“This thing is growing by leaps and bounds,” said Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist with Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group in Washington, D.C. “Where this ends, I still do not know.”

Rancho is recalling all 8.7 million pounds of beef processed at the plant in 2013. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has asserted that Rancho “processed diseased animals” without a full inspection. The USDA has not received any reports of illness linked to the meat, the agency said last week.

Rancho, a small processor of both older dairy cows and niche, pasture-raised beef cattle, announced last week that it has ceased operations at the plant on Petaluma Boulevard North. One of its owners said the company undertook the recall “out of an abundance of caution,” but declined to answer further questions.

Along with the recall, the USDA has revealed that the company is facing a two-pronged investigation. Both the department's Office of Inspector General and its Food Safety and Inspection Service are conducting separate probes of Rancho.

Neither the owners nor the USDA responded to requests for comment Tuesday.

Last week the first retailers to be named under the Rancho recall were North Bay supermarkets. But Tuesday's updates included such regional and national chains as Kroger, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer and Raley's.

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