Christine Audy loves her dog Panda so much she feeds him what she thought was only the finest beef. But before this meat became dog food, it was supposed to be for Audy and her husband.
"Steak, T-bone, some sirloin," she said.
She bought almost $400 worth of meat from a door-to-door salesman in 2010. One package is all that's left.
"It was tough, didn't have a good flavor, didn't smell good when you cooked it," she said.
The salesman came in a white refrigerated pickup truck with a logo on the side that said Steak House Steaks.
"He started insisting we buy it and so my husband says, well, just buy it and get it over with," Audy said.
"We're concerned with number one, public health and the safety of the product," said Katherine McNamara, the head of service meat inspection at the Vt. Agriculture Agency. "It's fly by night-- in and out in a day. They don't stick around."
It's a common scam nationwide. They have no permits or licenses allowing them to sell meat.
Reporter Gina Bullard: Should people not be eating this meat?
Katherine McNamara: It's hard to say. A lot of it is fully inspected, fully labeled; the only question we have is how is the product handled?
The state says selling meat door to door is legal with the proper permitting and licensure. But without state approval, there's no telling where this illegal meat came from.
Officials say the trucks are almost always from out of state and the sales people use pressure tactics. This could also be a method to scout out houses for criminal activity. Audy had someone come knocking again Tuesday trying to sell her more meat. This time it was a woman and a man.
"She said I'm only trying to earn a living and she stood two inches taller when she said it," Audy said.
These aren't amateurs going door to door. They come bearing brochures full of prices, not to mention cooking instructions. But who knows where this mystery meat is really coming from?
We tried to reach out to Steak House Steaks. The number on their website went directly to a person's voice mail.
We also called the original salesman and got a recording that the mailbox was full.
"It wasn't good deal and wasn't good quality," Audy said.
Ag officials say the best way to know if you're buying from a legitimate vendor is to ask for their retail meat license and literature like business cards and brochures. And to be certain, you should contact the Ag Agency's Meat Inspection Department at 1-802-828-2426.
Here's another way to be sure you're dealing with a reputable company. In Vermont, meat has to be sold by the pound. People who are falling prey to this scam, like Christine Audy, are buying it by the box.
Also, we should point out this isn't the only company we're getting complaints about. I got a call this afternoon from a man in Jericho who bought $1,000 worth of meat from two men a few days ago from another questionable company.
If you have bought any meat from any of these door-to-door salespeople you are urged to call the Agriculture Agency at 1-802-828-2426.
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