PETALUMA (CBS SF) -- A federal indictment against owners of a Bay Area slaughterhouse has revealed gruesome details of cancerous cows and adulterated carcasses at the facility, which was involved in a massive international beef recall.
Back in February, the United States Department of Agriculture recalled almost 9 million pounds of beef from the Rancho Feeding Corporation in Petaluma. The USDA cited concerns that the meat could cause adverse health consequences or even death if consumed.
The indictment unsealed on Monday alleges that starting in late 2012, slaughterhouse co-owner Jesse Amaral instructed two of his managers to slaughter cows with eye cancer during USDA inspectors' lunch breaks. Plant operations were supposed to be stopped.
In an alleged switch and slaughter scheme, the managers were allegedly told to swap the diseased cows' heads with healthy cows' heads. They also allegedly carved out "USDA Condemned" brands in the carcasses, so that inspectors coming back to do the post-mortems wouldn't notice a thing.
Authorities said the managers got kickbacks for going along with the scheme.
As a result, close to 200 condemned cattle and cows with eye cancer were sold in processed foods such as frozen burgers, and ended up on dinner plates all over the world.
The indictment said Amaral not only made money by selling contaminated meat, he also profited by charging farmers "handling fees" for disposing of the sick cows.
Private ranchers who were using the slaughterhouse for their high-end grass fed beef were also tangled in the recall and are out hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Along with Amaral, co-owner Robert Singleton, and employees Eugene Corda and Felix Cabrera were charged.
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