A California 99 Ranch Market supermarket and a local meat distributor are facing major investigations regarding a customer account of raw meat being improperly delivered to a store. On January 14, in San Jose, a shopper, Loretto Seto, witnessed a horribly unsanitary practice occurring, notifying the community and all 99 Ranch Market customers of the “new level of gross” that she saw taking place.
The photographs that Seto took, captioned “Beware,” which were later confirmed by surveillance footage, shows a meat vendor delivering large slabs of raw meat by piling the shipment directly into Costco shopping carts and wheeling them into the store.
The vendor later determined to be Jim’s Farm Meat Co., is the new target of the investigation. The supermarket chain has since terminated relations to the distributor, and Jim’s Farm Meat fired the employees delivering the shipment, however, the Santa Clara Department of Environmental Health has begun an investigation of the plant.
Jim’s Farm Meat, based in Winton, California is being scrutinized, however, Ranch Market is receiving criticism from having a business relationship with a company using such practices.
Costco has also yet to comment on its store’s carts being “illegitimately” used in the meat transport, but will unlikely be tied to the investigation. It is unclear why the meat packaging company employees did not opt to use equally unsanitary Ranch Market carts instead.
Seto’s initial Facebook post has reached thousands of viewers who will undoubtedly reconsider shopping at Ranch Market or other wholesalers who use a variety of distributors such as Jim’s Farm Meat.
The reoccurring comment being made on social media is that if the unsanitary practice had gone unnoticed, many Ranch Market customers and their families could have become seriously ill from consuming the mishandled meat.
If the workers were careless enough to pile unpackaged product into a dirty shopping cart, then there is no telling how else the meat may have been mishandled, considering critically important temperature zones that raw meat must be kept at to avoid food-borne illness.
Jim’s Farm Meat is being investigated. However, Seto was right to warn to warn other consumers of the potentially hazardous food item. The meat packing plant is obviously incompetent in hiring and training employees of safe handling practices and stressing the importance of meat being kept safe, as it is highly susceptible to bacterial diseases which could be fatal in some people such as young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
Citizens throughout Santa Clara County were spared becoming ill. A tragedy could have occurred from one or two employee’s carelessness.
It is, however, concerning that other batches of infected meat could already be in the fridges and freezers of California residents if this practice has ever been used before but went unnoticed.
Even worse, the shipment was reportedly solely pork meat, which arguably requires stricter sanitation measures to prevent illness transmissions than other meats.
The meat vendor, defends the integrity of the company, saying that transporting their products in filthy shopping carts is not something they “typically do.”
A spokesperson for Jim’s Farm Meat, Maria Moon claimed that meat always leaves the processing plant in wrapped packages “in a combo bin,” and that that was how the shipment in question was sent out.
Moon continued that the company holds no responsibility for the employees who thought transporting meat in such a way was acceptable but have since terminated them. She continues to express confusion that the delivery workers would remove the meat from its packaging, but never once considers that perhaps the meat was never packaged to begin with.
She further “declined to comment” about the incident while the investigation is still occurring, though, as expected, the 99 Ranch Market has also filed a complaint against the meat distributor.
The incident is undoubtedly serious given the highly unsanitary conditions and has alerted “regulatory and oversight agencies, including those at the federal and state level” to address the situation.
The 99 Ranch Market company apologized to its customers for being involved in such an unsafe situation, claiming it is “committed to food safety and customer satisfaction.”
Seto and other concerned customers were not convinced with the generic apology and agree that there is reason to be concerned that such an incident may happen again. If the store was negligent enough to allow it to occur once, it could likely be overseen in the future.
It is extremely fortunate that Seto had noticed the dangerous meat shipment and was willing to speak up about it. However, it is inexcusable for both 99 Ranch Market and Jim’s Farm Meat to allow such barbaric food handling practices to even be considered. Thankfully, social media was able to inform potential customers of the way that both companies handle their products.