BOLINAS, CALIFORNIA – Bill Nilman has had a very prestigious image in the world of slaughterhouse beef, priding himself on his high-quality product which he raises gently and humanely and sells nationwide to restaurants and grocery stores, so it was quite the shock when Rancho Feeding Corp. began recalling his beef, 9 million pounds of it, due to bovine cancer cells found throughout it. The recall began in January when federal inspectors found the meat tainted, and were shocked at the high amounts of cancer cells it contained. Federal agents told CNN they believe Milman used old dairy cows that had grown sick and cancerous during times when inspectors were elsewhere.
Nilman refutes these claims, stating only his own beef cattle were used in his slaughterhouse, so no dairy cows could have been present there. He adds that either he or one of his trusted employees oversaw the inspections and only these people handled the animals at any given time, so there could be no mix-up of what went where. The U.S. Department of Agriculture disagrees with Nilman, saying there is no way he could guarantee tainted meat was not at his facility, and the cancerous cows could easily have gotten mixed up.
Nilman finds the logic behind the USDA’s claim “preposterous,” claiming the difference between his cows and the cows Rancho Feeding Corp. were buying were easily noticeable, saying the characteristics between the two were akin to “the difference between a motorcycle and an automobile.” Backing Nilman is former Rancho Feeding Corp. owner Jesse Amaral, who openly assures us that NR Beef is in no way “tainted, diseased or uninspected,” and that there was no reason for the recall because ” it is wholesome and was fully inspected.”
While he waits for his beef to be inspected again, an additional 100,000 pounds sits in freezing units, which has cost Nilman over $400,000, something which puts a heavy crunch on a business pulling in less than $2 million a year as of last year’s records.
“It’s been devastating for our business. It’s been a huge distraction. It’s going to be a huge financial hit. We’re going to have to borrow money or sell part of our company in order to stay alive,” Nilman lamented.
Nilman remains highly pessimistic about the odds of the USDA overturning their ruling, and is having a hard time trying to come to terms with having to toss away the massive amount of beef that is keeping his business alive and competitive. But to him it’s not just about the money. After having raised the cows from infancy, watching them grow so they could feed a nation, having to trash all the meat takes away their purpose. And it is this Mr. Nilman finds “immoral.”
“It’s repugnant,”He claimed. “It’s incomprehensible to us, really.”
The tainted meat has already been found in 35 states, and in a February 8th press release from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service claiming Rancho Feeding “processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out these activities without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection. Thus, the products are adulterated, because they are unsound, unwholesome or otherwise are unfit for human food and must be removed from commerce.” Nilman believes Rancho used him as a patsy to place blame on for their shady negotiations elsewhere.
— FOX59 News (@FOX59) May 3, 2014
Probe into California beef recall of nearly 9 million pounds of bad meat turns up litany of deceptions: officials http://t.co/EaJW13KMrg
— KTLA (@KTLA) May 3, 2014
Beef recall: Respected rancher takes huge hit
— WYFF News 4 (@wyffnews4) May 3, 2014