Authorities in California are investigating images of unwrapped pork meat being delivered in shopping carts, which recently went viral on Facebook.
According to the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, its office received multiple complaints on Friday after photos of the meat purportedly being delivered to a 99 Ranch Market in San Jose, California were posted on social media.
“We are taking immediate steps to conduct a thorough investigation and appropriate actions to ensure food safety for the public,” the agency said in a statement to the San Jose Mercury News. “Other regulatory and oversight agencies, including those at the federal and state level, shall be notified as appropriate.”
San Jose resident Loretta Seto snapped the images of the delivery and posted them on her Facebook account on Friday with a caption expressing her disgust:
“We were at the 99 Ranch Market across from this Costco and saw their vendors delivering meat with Costco shopping carts!! Talk about disgusting! I’m usually okay with sticking the kids in the seat of the [shopping cart] basket, but this is a whole new level of gross. Beware.”
Her post became widely shared, sparking numerous angry comments from netizens who expressed concerned about the cleanliness of the meat sold at the popular California-based Asian supermarket chain.
A representative for the store responded directly to Seto’s Facebook post, noting that it already threw out the pictured meats and filed a complaint against the vendor, identified as Jim’s Farm Meat Co., whose employees were photographed.
“99 Ranch Market is committed to food safety and customer satisfaction. In addition to an investigation and filing a complaint, we immediately discarded on-hand inventories of the related pork products,” the company wrote in the Facebook comment.
“Again, thank you for your patience and understanding. We’ll continue to take all necessary steps to resolve this issue with our customers in mind.”
In an interview with the Modesto Bee, Jim’s Farm Meat denied that this is not how they deliver their meat products.
“We are thoroughly investigating the incident,” Maria Moon, a manager at the company was quoted as saying. “This isn’t anything we typically do. When we send our products out, they are always in a combo bin and wrapped. That’s how it left our facility.”
While Moon confirmed that the two employees shown in the photos had allegedly been fired, she suggested that the method of delivery may have been done at the request of 99 Ranch Market.
“Whatever [the two employees did] is nothing we would have approved,” she further claimed.
According to NBC Bay Area, the United States Department of Agriculture also joined the probe initiated by the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health on Friday.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is committed to protecting public health by ensuring the safety of the nation’s meat supply. The Agency is working with local authorities and will determine further actions as information becomes available,” the USDA said in a statement.
A second 99 Ranch Market in Richmond is also being investigated for similar violations.