© AP Photo/The Press Democrat, Conner Jay
In this January 13, 2014 photo, cows wait to be butchered at Rancho Veal Slaughterhouse in Petaluma, Calif. Rancho Feeding Corp. has voluntarily halted operations, as it tries to track down all of its beef shipments over the past year, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported Monday, Feb. 10, 2014.
Rancho Feeding Corp., the Petaluma slaughterhouse that recently recalled 8.7 million pounds of beef, is under criminal investigation by the federal government for killing and selling meat from dairy cows with cancer
, according to sources who would speak only on the condition of anonymity.
Rancho was allegedly buying up cows with eye cancer, chopping off their heads so inspectors couldn't detect the disease and illegally selling the meat, the sources said.
Although it's against federal law, experts say eating the meat isn't likely to make people sick. So far, no one has reported becoming ill from eating the meat.
The huge recall and criminal investigation hasn't just affected Rancho. Private cattle producers, who used the facility for custom slaughtering, have also been swept up, leaving the shelves with a dearth of local, natural and high-end beef.