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USDA Closes Sausage Company for Allegedly Using Unfit Meat

Associated Press

Federal agents have temporarily closed an Oakland company and seized more than 100,000 pounds of sausage allegedly made from cattle judged unfit for human consumption.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is recalling the products of Coast Sausage Co., most of which are sold to military bases, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

There have been no reported health problems from eating the allegedly unfit sausages, officials said.

The seizure occurred April 3 in connection with a federal criminal investigation that began in March, said U.S. Attorney John Mendez here.

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The probe focuses on an alleged criminal conspiracy in which Coast, for the last five years, has purchased adulterated cattle carcasses from two Stanislaus County meat suppliers, according to an investigator’s affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

Telephone calls Saturday to the company were not answered.

The cattle allegedly used to make the sausages were classified as “4-D"--meaning diseased, disabled, down and dying--and were unfit for human consumption, officials said.

Coast makes franks and other sausages. About 75% of its products are sold to military bases, with the rest going to commercial wholesalers and stores.

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The company’s retail products are sold under the Louisiana Brand, and its wholesale products are sold as Quality Brand. All Coast packages are stamped “EST 6163,” Mendez said.

The investigation is to determine whether Coast and others violated the Federal Meat Inspection Act. The law requires inspection of cattle before and after slaughter and demands that unacceptable carcasses be destroyed.

Coast was cited for previous violations of the act in 1987, 1989 and last May, when it was cited for putting “sour, putrid, adulterated meat” into sausages sold to the public, according to USDA records.

USDA agents on April 3 seized “well beyond 100,000 pounds” of suspicious sausage, said Dave Dickson, the agency’s head of regional investigations. Agents also seized business records and revoked federal inspection services, effectively closing the plant, officials said.


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