Beef Recall Update: Where we stand. 02/18/14
Dear friends, customers and consumers,
Like all our fellow sustainable ranchers affected by the Rancho recall, we have been trying to glean all information and build a strong, coherent response. At this point, we don’t have any information from USDA about what happened. LeftCoast GrassFed and our hardworking, dedicated colleagues–small and family owned ranches, the supporters of rural America–have been struggling to ascertain if our beef was affected by the allegations made by the USDA against Rancho. The USDA’s original recall was focused on one day (January 8, 2014) and, as we understand it, only on culled dairy cows that were processed without full inspection.
Though we applaud USDA for their mission of assuring America’s food safety, and gladly abide by the rules and regulations, we do so under the assumption that the rules are being applied uniformly and fairly. Unfortunately, the recent incident at Rancho leaves ranchers struggling to understand why the beef we all spent years carefully raising in order to assure its wholesomeness and safety has been recalled, especially when there has not been a single report of illness or incident to justify these measures. We assumed in good faith that all our beef had been inspected and certified at least twice by USDA inspectors as is the customary procedure and we know much of it has been eaten by thousands of consumers without any reported issues.
And yet, out of an abundance of caution, we emailed customers and posted on our website and Facebook pages to inform customers about the recall. We are responding to their requests and encouraged that many of them still believe in our product and don't want to return it. But we also recognize a larger opportunity to surface, once and for all, the critical bottlenecks and challenges confronting our sustainable ranching sector and mobilize the support required for a resilient future.
Small, grass-fed, humane ranches producing beef in a sustainable manner are a growing and evolving backbone of America’s rural economies especially in an increasingly uncertain food future. Their animals provide ecosystem services for flora and fauna, cash flows to boost otherwise struggling rural economies and a healthy low carbon food source for discriminating consumers.
At the heart of this movement are small, local slaughterhouses. The lack of a viable operating slaughterhouse threatens the movement’s vitality, as it is one of two devastating chokepoints—cut-and-wrap butcher services being the other—that could bring local producers to their knees. Cut off either one, and you create another chasm between consumers and their ability to know where their food comes from and who is providing it. If we continue to undermine this local food system, consumers will be left with few choices but to rely on industrial food-producing conglomerates and their carbon intensive supply chains and distribution channels.
All we know at this point is that nearly 9 million pounds of beef could possibly go to waste without any clear indication from the USDA as to why. That’s what makes this recall a potential and seemingly unjust tragedy for so many; ranchers don’t know why they are being targeted and penalized, especially at a time when so many are already struggling with drought conditions severe enough to warrant presidential attention and already putting a financial strain on this year's profit margins.
Therefore, we are strongly requesting that the USDA immediately provide additional information through all available channels about:
- the nature of this recall
- whether or not they believe our beef, and the beef of our fellow small producers, has been tainted in any way and how
- if there is any way that the USDA can instead issue a targeted recall without endangering public health, as some have already called for, and if so, to do so immediately
- how the USDA is going to support those producers who’s economic stability—nay, livelihood—is being affected by this recall
We feel it is imperative that the USDA provides answers to questions about the recall being posed by us and other small producers, our customers and consumers. The livelihoods of many good ranching people and families on both sides of the Golden Gate are at stake and a powerful educational tool for consumer’s who support the growing local sustainable food movement and ecological awareness are at risk.
Thank you for your help galvanizing a united base of support.
The Team at LeftCoast GrassFed
Out of an abundance of caution, LeftCoast GrassFed is recalling all its beef processed in 2013, in cooperation with the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's investigation into Rancho Feeding Corporation—the facility that processes many of our cattle—and their blanket recall of all meat processed by Rancho Feeding Corporation between January 1, 2013 and January 7, 2014. LeftCoast GrassFed contracted with Rancho to process cattle on a handful of days in the summer and fall of 2013. While we have been provided no evidence that our product has been compromised and there have been no reported illnesses from the consumption of our product, the safety and health of our customers is our utmost concern.
LeftCoast GrassFed sets the highest priority on guaranteeing that our cattle are raised and processed in the most socially aware, morally conscientious, sustainable grass-pasture environment possible to ensure the health of our cattle, customers and the planet. Our cattle and processes are certified by American Grassfed Association and Animal Welfare Approved.
We are in contact with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to better understand the situation and their decision to place a blanket recall on all of Rancho’s services provided in 2013 and 2014, and will cooperate with any federal investigation. While there have been no reported instances of illness or contamination relating to LeftCoast GrassFed products, our customers remain our utmost priority and we are therefore requesting that customers with product impacted by this recall return that product to us for a full refund. For more information on how to return product, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are sorry for this inconvenience and saddened by the waste of millions of pounds of meat, some of which, like ours, was raised with meticulous care and attention to the health and well-being of the animals that produced it. While we and our fellow small producers affected by the recall do not know the details of the USDA investigation, we are working hard to learn more, and are looking to the USDA for their leadership in this crisis to minimize the damage and find the most constructive path forward. We will share more details as we have them.
The LeftCoast GrassFed Team