Year-long Study Reveals Serious Beef Industry Contamination
(HealingTalks) The onslaught of food safety concerns seems endless. The latest recall on beef is not the first time the current administration has made this decision. In February 2008, the largest recall on beef in history was announced by the USDA involving 143 million pounds of frozen ground beef packaged by a Southern California packing house. The USDA was concerned that this beef came with an elevated risk of mad cow, E-coli, and salmonella. While consumers have long been accustomed to hearing of the occasional instance of E-coli in ground beef, or salmonella in limited quantities of food, bad news has grown more frequent, more worrying, and more diverse over recent years.
Beef in the News
Food contaminated by pathogens is just the tip of the iceberg. A recent year long study by ‘Kansas City Star‘ investigates the truth of the beef industry. The study revealed not just the contamination that destroyed Margaret Lamkin’s colon, but a process that industry uses to tenderize beef. Lamkin, of course represents just a sample of the damage the food industry wreaks upon hundreds of thousands of hapless Americans.
The ‘bladed‘ or ‘needled‘ beef, according to the investigation, exposes Americans to a higher risk of E-coli than meat cuts that have not been tenderized. The other key findings of the investigation are no less alarming. While large beef plants cause disproportionately more meat poisoning, tracking contaminated products to their source has proven difficult with co-mingling from many different cattle. When millions of dollars worth of growth hormones and antibiotics are injected into cattle, they contribute to antibiotic-resistant pathogens in humans. What is even more alarming is that Big Beef is using all its might – political and monetary- to influence federal dietary guidelines in its favor. The industry has gone to the extent of persuading the American Heart Association to certify beef as heart healthy.
Return of The Jungle?
Beef enthusiasts have more than one reason to carry on their fight for a logical conclusion. The cruelty exposed in slaughter houses of the mega beef plants in the US by The Kansas City Star study may leave dizzying impacts. If nothing else, the way the innocent animals are drugged, overfed, stunned, bled, and beheaded alone deserves a recall. Nothing can hide the tell tale odor of the automatized, robotized, and computerized Tyson Fresh Meat plant, the biggest beef plant in the world. The entire killing operation is much the same as at the turn-of-the-century conditions exposed Upton Sincalair’s The Jungle.
Aside from the hazardous food industry itself, work place safety at big American beef plants like Tyson is a huge matter of concern. Employees at Tyson have died from asphyxiation, electrocution. Some have even fallen into the grinders or been kicked by semi conscious cows. The company is already facing fines of $104,000 for two “willful” work place safety violations.
When will Americans Decide Enough is Enough?
While the meat exported to Japan began undergoing extra procedures after the diseased U.S cattle were detected, no safety measures exist for domestic consumption. Yet, the beef industry has been lobbying Japan to drop extra procedures. A more worrying feature of the American beef industry is increasingly fewer small plants. From 2004 to 2009, an average of 19 small plants closed down each year. With the closures of smaller plants, Big Beef continued to grow bigger and stronger.
While a handful of mega plants continue to feed the Americans, a positive trend is a persistent and growing movement among consumers to turn away from contaminated factory food and commodity beef. Although the market for local, organic and grass-fed beef is still in its infancy, it never the less comes with the hope that the battle against contaminated and hazardous food is not yet over.
The Beginning of a Food Revolution
The issue of food contamination goes beyond the recall on beef. More and more people are now increasingly realizing that our food chain is facing a crisis for the first time ever in human history. They are realizing that the food business focuses more on profit than health and environment. Global health hazards are surfacing in forms of obesity, diabetes, and chronic illnesses and the people of the world are starting to revolt. When John Robbins’ Diet for a New America was published in 1987, beef consumption in America fell by 19%, while organic food consumption has grown over 26 fold since then. Currently, the organic food industry has a share of 4% in the total food consumption.
In North America, restaurants are facing the kind of challenge that goes beyond recall on beef. They are challenged with quality and safety measures. They must show to the customers that their products are safe. Only then can they get ahead of their competitors. People are more interested today in knowing the way animals raised for food are treated. The demand for organic, GMO-free, sustainable food is growing. Food safety, environmentally safe methods of production, and fair policies on trade and labor are the issues important to consumers. Moreover, consumers are unlikely to forgive a company that violates the ethical treatments of animals.
California voters are demanding the labeling of food containing GMOs. Although the California Proposition 37 was narrowly defeated when Monsanto and their buddies in the business of junk food and pesticides stormed the voters under the weight of $46 million, organizers in 30 states have embarked on a GMO labeling campaign. Their concerted efforts on the recall of beef and efforts to improve treatments of animals is gaining momentum. The Grocery Manufacturer’s Association in America is also participating in the campaign by seeking increased federal scrutiny of imported foods and ingredients in addition to more funding for the FDA. Other leading food organizations are making similar proposals. Meanwhile, some major purchasers of food products, such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s have upped their own standards, requiring independent safety inspections at their suppliers.
Evidently, the healthy food revolution has begun and is unlikely to look back anytime soon, no matter how much money the big food companies may consign to keep their hold on food systems.
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