Meat processor at center of national recall is sold

Rancho Feeding Corp., a Petaluma meat processor under federal investigation after recalling nearly 9 million pounds of beef earlier this month, is being bought by an artisanal Marin County farm specializing in pasture-raised livestock.

Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes Station, which is located along a national seashore 40 miles north of San Francisco, has submitted a request to take over Rancho Feeding’s operations, federal inspectors said Thursday.

“Rancho Feeding has submitted a letter stating it is ceasing operations and voluntarily withdrawing from inspection,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service said in a statement. “Marin Sun Farms has submitted an application to operate a new federal establishment at the former Rancho Feeding location. FSIS will review the application in accordance with our regulations and policies to ensure the firm meets requirements.”

A spokesman for Marin Sun Farms confirmed the sale but declined to elaborate. Calls to Rancho Feeding went unanswered Thursday afternoon.

Rancho Feeding is at the center of a massive recall involving thousands of retail chains, including Kroger, Food 4 Less and Walmart, for processing and selling “diseased and unsound animals” without a full federal inspection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

On Tuesday, Nestle issued a voluntary recall of its Philly Steak and Cheese flavored Hot Pockets after it discovered a supplier had bought meat from Rancho Feeding.

There are no reported illnesses linked to the company’s meat, but the firm is being probed for criminal wrongdoing by the USDA’s inspector general.

A spokesman for the USDA said the investigation will continue after the sale is complete.

Marin Sun Farms is a specialty purveyor of beef, pork, poultry and lamb that promotes local and sustainable farming practices. Prices aren’t cheap. A pair of bone-in ribeye steaks cost $72.

The company had reportedly contracted Rancho Feeding to slaughter some of its livestock. The number of slaughterhouses are dwindling nationwide, creating a bottleneck in processing ever more popular high-end meats in regions like the Bay Area.


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