The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now getting involved in the case of raw, unwrapped meat allegedly being delivered in shopping carts to a 99 Ranch Market in San Jose.
NBC Bay Area first reported the story Friday after a local shopper on a grocery run snapped photos of the raw meat being transported in Costco shopping carts and posted them on her Facebook page.
The photos went viral, getting hundreds of comments from people criticizing the unsanitary health conditions.
Loretta Seto happened to be on a routine shopping trip at 99 Ranch Market, a grocery store at Hostetter Road and Lundy Avenue in San Jose, hoping to pick up a few things for a weekend barbecue when she spotted two men delivering raw meat in shopping carts at the front entrance. She says her initial reaction was to take photos of the incident which she later posted to Facebook as a warning to other shoppers.
"Raw meat was being transported in Costco shopping carts − first thing I did was snap a photo," Seto told NBC Bay Area. "Two guys were transporting slabs of pork — they were just slapped on the handle bard. I don't know where it goes — does it go down the aisle and touch all the products? I don't know. It was absolutely horrific in my opinion."
Costco, which is located across from the Ranch 99 Market, did not respond to a request for comment.
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says it is now working with local authorities on the investigation after the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health launched a probe on Friday.
In a statement, the USDA said: “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.”
“We’re going out to the facility, interviewing the personnel, reviewing paperwork, talking with other individuals,” a Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health spokesperson said. “There’s a lot of pending information, pending their investigation and we just want and ask for people’s patience as we work our way through the investigatory process.”
NBC Bay Area looked into the recent county inspection reports for the 99 Ranch Market on Hostetter Road. According to a report on Jan. 8, a health inspector highlighted several “major risk factors and violations” in the meat department, including improper hand washing, food debris in the meat slicers and grinders and dirty meat trays.
And according to a report from last October, the county briefly closed this location’s store’s seafood and meat department after discovering roaches.
Comments on Seto's Facebook page are still pouring in.
“No doubt a health code violation,” said Facebook user, David Seminatore. “You could get really sick, especially a young child.”
In an interview with NBC Bay Area, Ranch 99 Market said they learned about the incident on Friday and have dumped all the meat from the vendor, Jim's Farm Meat.
The grocery store even responded directly on Seto’s Facebook post and apologized, stating “we are taking the necessary steps to resolve this issue by investigating this case further and filing a complaint against our vendor.”