Some 8.7 million pounds of meat from a Northern California company have been recalled because they came from "diseased and unsound" animals that weren't properly inspected, a federal agency announced Saturday.
The recall affecting Rancho Feeding Corporation products - as detailed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service - marks a significant expansion of one announced January 13, when just over 40,000 pounds of the company's products were recalled.
According to the U.S. agency, Rancho Feeding "processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out these activities without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection."
Diners at Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska caught an intestinal illness after eating salad mix that came from Mexico, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The federal agency said its investigators have traced the outbreak to four "illness clusters" of restaurants, which spokeswoman Theresa Eisenman later identified to CNN as Red Lobster and Olive Garden locations. The probe didn't find indications that any bags of salad mix with the rare type of parasite - known as cyclospora - were sold at U.S. grocery stores.
The tainted salad mix came from Taylor Farms de Mexico, "a processor of foodservice salads," according to the FDA.
Darden - the parent company for Olive Garden, Red Lobster and other restaurant chains such as LongHorn Steakhouse - described the August 2 announcement from the FDA as "new information."
Prepackaged salad mix has been pinpointed as the source of an outbreak of cyclospora - an intestinal illness tied to a rare type of parasite - that has sickened scores of people in Iowa and Nebraska, health authorities in those states said Tuesday.
More than 100 Iowans and 78 Nebraskans have fallen ill with the disease since last month, those states' health departments said. Five people have been hospitalized as a result in Nebraska, where health officials say new cases of cyclospora are reported daily.
Investigations commonly led authorities in both states to conclude that a bagged blend of iceberg and romaine lettuce, red cabbage and carrots is to blame, with Nebraska noting the mix had been prewashed.
State and federal authorities are still trying to determine exactly where the product was sold or under what brand name. The Nebraska alert noted that it "came through national distribution channels" and that "locally grown produce is not part of this outbreak."
FBI agents on Friday morning arrested a 62-year-old man who, they say, tried to extort Paula Deen by threatening to divulge "true and damning" information about the embattled celebrity chef - unless he was paid to keep quiet.
Thomas George Paculis was taken into custody without incident in Ithaca, New York, by FBI agents and deputies from the Tompkins County Sheriff's Office, the FBI said in a press release.
There was no answer later Friday to a phone number linked to him in the FBI's criminal complaint, nor was there an immediate response from an e-mail address in that same document.