The owner of a Montana meat processing plant that was recently suspended due to “putrid” conditions has been arrested on charges of assaulting two Department of Livestock employees. Gary Wheelock, owner of Montana City Meats, was arrested on five misdemeanor charges, including two assaults, two counts of unlawful restraint and one of obstructing a police officer, reports the Independent Record.
Montana City Meats’ processing license was suspended for 90 days after a visit by four staffers on July 11. “During that visit, we found several violations (of state law) including putrid sights and smells such as fly infestations, maggots, offal, bones and skins from a previous processing day, garbage strewn about, unfinished wood surfaces, rust, blood on the floor of the cooler, and a carcass that appeared to have been hanging too long that had developed a slick surface and an odor,” Gary Hamel, the department’s Meat and Poultry Inspection chief, wrote in a July 19 letter to the company.
Montana City Meats also, on June 8, sold misbranded meats — the “not for sale” labels had been removed — at the Helena Farmers Market, according to the letter.
In a July 23 letter to the processor, Hamel said Montana City Meats could stay its suspension for six months if it corrected the problems. The department agents visiting Tuesday found that conditions there had not been rectified, Mackay said Wednesday.
Some of the cleanliness issues have been addressed, but the physical structure of the plant “is not where it needs to be,” he said.
Wheeler posted bond of $2,695 and was released. Mackay said that his suspension could be lifted if Wheeler demonstrates compliance with state regulations. Otherwise, the suspension ends on Oct. 9.
Source: Independent Observer