Agriculture

USDA shuts Hanford meat company

A truck pulling a livestock trailer leaves Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif., in a 2012 file photo. The company is buying Coalinga-based Harris Ranch Beef Co. in a sale announced April 9, 2019.
A truck pulling a livestock trailer leaves Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif., in a 2012 file photo. The company is buying Coalinga-based Harris Ranch Beef Co. in a sale announced April 9, 2019. Fresno Bee Staff Photo

A slaughterhouse in Hanford was forced to shut down last week after a plant employee impeded food safety inspections, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.

The incident occurred Thursday at Central Valley Meat Co. but details about what happened were not made public.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a statement Monday that the plant halted operations in the incident because inspectors must be present at federally inspected slaughter facilities.

Central Valley Meat Co. did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The Kings County Sheriff’s Department said Monday it had no information about what happened, but a detective has been assigned to find out.

The company presented a plan to the USDA to prevent a recurrence and the plan was accepted, allowing the company to resume operation on Friday, the Food Safety and Inspection Service said.

Last year, the meat processing plant, a supplier for the National School Lunch Program, was closed by federal inspectors because of unsanitary conditions but soon reopened.

In 2013, the company recalled more than 147,000 pounds of ground beef because it might have contained small pieces of plastic.

In 2012, it suspended its operations for a week after the release of an undercover video showing acts of animal cruelty. The secretly taped video triggered the USDA to withdraw its meat inspectors, preventing the company from operating.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold

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