PETALUMA, Calif. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is alleging that a California slaughterhouse engaged in "circumvention" of federal inspection rules — a charge strongly denied by one of the facility's owners.
The USDA issued a short statement Thursday on the ongoing investigation into Petaluma-based Rancho Feeding Corp., which voluntarily halted operations this month following a recall of more than 8.7 million pounds of beef products that it processed.
The facility is accused of processing diseased and unhealthy animals without a full federal inspection.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat says the document from the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service suggests a distinction between an accidental breach in slaughterhouse protocol and intentional wrongdoing.
Rancho co-owner Robert Singleton insists the plant consistently slaughtered animals in accordance with the USDA's rules.
The USDA inspector general is conducting a separate investigation into the plant.