WRAL Investigates

N.C. meat inspections reveal more than 300 violations

Posted December 7, 2009
Updated February 28, 2013

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— A backyard slaughterhouse and fake USDA labels on meat packaging were just two of the cases uncovered in North Carolina this year during state-mandated meat inspections.

The North Carolina Meat & Poultry Inspection Division, part of the state's Department of Agriculture, reported more than 300 violations across the state since 2005, according to public records obtained by the WRAL Investigates Team.

Inspection photos taken at Ronnie and Barbara Sink's home in Lexington showed men slaughtering cattle in the couple's back yard.

Ronnie Sink said he sold the cattle to people from foreign countries who wanted to slaughter the animals for religious purposes. He allowed them to kill the animals in his back yard, but said he no longer allows them to use his property.

See inspection photos of meat violations. (Warning: Some pictures are graphic.)

State agriculture officials said that the Sinks' operation was unauthorized and unsanitary.

"It wasn't very pleasant," said Don Delozier, state director of the Meat & Poultry Inspection Division. "It wasn't anything we'd consider close to accepting."

Compliance officers shut down the operation and sent the Sinks a letter on Sept. 21 advising them of civil penalties. The Sinks agreed to pay a $4,000 fine to the state. If the slaughtering was for private use, it would've been OK, according to investigators. Since money changed hands, the state considered it a business.

"For you to slaughter that animal and sell to me or charge me a fee, that violates state law and that's where the problem was," Delozier said.

Another large case the state investigated was against Mexico Central Foods Inc. in Monroe in which the owner was cited for unlicensed beef and pork processing. Settlement papers also showed that the owner made fake U.S. Department of Agriculture labels for the packages. The state fined Mexico Central $10,000.

The Lexington and Monroe cases were among four businesses that were fined for serious violations this year. Fifty-one others received written warnings.

"The majority of our violators, they are violators because they are not aware of what the law is," Delozier said.

Fines are issued in the most egregious cases. Delozier said he thinks legal settlements get better results than criminal charges because settlements allow his officers unlimited access to the properties for two years.

"We can walk in Saturday morning or Friday night, any time. We have 24/7 access," he said.

For more information:

North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Meat and Poultry Inspection Division
Agriculture Building
1001 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1001

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17 Comments

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  • Justin T. Dec 8, 2009

    Every person who wants to learn why local butchers and farmers have such a hard time should watch "Food, Inc."

    There is a story very similar to this in the movie. A farmer/butcher was shut down based on an anonymous tip... his meat (pork, beef, and chicken) was thousands of times cleaner than grocery store beef.

    To stay in business the guy had to pay out of pocket for all of the lab work. There's definitely something afoot to keep the little guy out of the seed, farming, and processing business.

    Currently 5 major companies control over 80% of our food from seed to shelf. Check it out... I saw the documentary over the weekend and it really shed an honest, practical light on what we're eating and why.

    It also pointed out that if we demand a better product, the industry will put it on the shelf.

  • freedomrings Dec 8, 2009

    CaLmDoWnItStHeInTaAaARnEt

    Well said. :)

  • freedomrings Dec 8, 2009

    Has anyone ever seen the inside of USDA inspected meat packaging plants? It's a joke. It's disgusting. This boils down to Uncle Sam not getting their taxes. We've been conditioned to think we need the government all the time, and we don't. The government uses fear to control us. The old "what if" factor. The fact remains that most of our grandparents ate meat slaughtered in someone's backyard.

    I visit Mexico once a year and stay for about a month. The meat I eat is slaughtered in "backyards". The animals are grass-fed and free-roaming. They're treated like animals, not a product. I've never, ever gotten sick. In fact, the meat tastes so much better it makes me wonder about how we as a country really treat our animals....

  • ncsudan Dec 8, 2009

    areyoukiddingme,
    I hope you only support Duke and did not go to Duke, because if you did, their standards are a lot lower than I thought. Of course any site inspected in NC is a U.S. producer, as NC is in the U.S. What was the point of your post anyway? So you could see your Duke logo?

  • G-man Dec 8, 2009

    Sanitation isn't the problem. It boils down to the Government not getting their share in taxes.

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Dec 8, 2009

    lol I like how the "illegals" are blamed in this article. Look at the infractions it's poor management, ever seen an "illegal immigrant" in management?

    Another example of blind racism. No one goes around (without grief) saying that a bank robbery was "oh another case of the black man committin' crimes"

  • djcgriffin Dec 8, 2009

    I just threw up. Why did they get only a fine? Is that standard? It just did not seem like a stiff enough penalty for me. What if someone had died from tainted meat?

  • ambidextrous cat Dec 8, 2009

    Or you could go vegetarian or grow your own food! No one HAS to eat meat.

  • are you kidding me Dec 8, 2009

    Eat American made food, save American jobs! Buy American made products, save American jobs! It really is that simple people.

  • pbjbeach Dec 8, 2009

    donnied1952

    why wasnt the owner of this company mexico name rerleased in this article. this fine to this company was just a slap on the wrist of business they should have imposed a more meaningful fine on this company

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