Four employees of a Northern California slaughterhouse that was part of a massive beef recall were indicted on Monday after they reportedly processed cows with cancer while U.S. livestock inspectors weren't present and after they distributed the diseased cattle, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Rancho Feeding Corp. owners Jesse Amaral Jr. and Robert Singleton and two of their employees, Eugene Corda and Felix Cabrera, were charged with distribution of adulterated, misbranded and uninspected meat, the AP said.

Cabrera and Corda were reportedly responsible for the slaughter of cows with skin cancer of the eye via instructions from Amaral and Singleton. They also reportedly hid the disease from USDA inspectors, which allegedly resulted in distribution of about 79 diseased cattle that were not fully inspected.

The owners of Petaluma-based slaughterhouse conspired with employees to slaughter about 79 cows with skin cancer of the eye instead of halting the operations while inspectors took their lunch breaks, prosecutors alleged. The plant workers were swapping the diseased cows' heads with healthy cattle heads so the inspectors didn't suspect anything, the government claims.

Production at Rancho was stopped in February after numerous recalls, including one for 8.7 million pounds of beef. The product was sold at Walmart and other national chains and used in products like Hot Pockets.

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