Monday, March 29, 2010

Ground Beef is Unhealthy and Contaminated


I am a bit obsessed this week with Celebrity Chef Jaime Oliver and his mission to reform the way Americans eat. I watched his new ABC show where he tries to reform the school lunch program in North Carolina where 50% of the town is obese. It is really a great show and it's great to see this type of "reality" TV rather than the usual fare. In honor of eating healthy, I am re-posting a blog from last year. It is worth repeating and here it is:

It takes a lot to shock me, but the article in today's New York Times about E. coli in ground beef is truly eye opening. I want you to read the entire article but here are some scary highlights and facts that show our meat sources are not safe for consumption:
  • A single portion of hamburger meat bought at most supermarkets is not from meat run through a grinder. It is an amalgam of various grades of meat from different parts of many cows and even from different slaughterhouses.
  • There is no federal requirement for grinders to test their ingredients for E. coli pathogen.
  • Hamburger meat might be labeled "Angus Beef" but it can be made up of low grade ingredients cut from areas of the cow that have contact with feces, which carries E. coli.
  • Many big slaughterhouses will only sell to grinders who agree not to test their shipments for E. coli because they fear that discovery will set off a recall of ingredients they sold to others.
  • Meat grinders buy trimmings of fatty edges sliced from better cuts of meat and mix them with other fatty meat products that have been centrifuged and treated with ammonia to kill E. coli. One company, Beef Products Inc, produces seven million pounds a week that is sold to grocers and fast-food restaurants and served in the federal school lunch programs.
  • The Agriculture Department regulations allow hamburger meat labeled ground chuck or ground sirloin to contain trimmings from those parts of the cow.
  • Bacterial testing of ground beef is not required because the industry says the cost would unfairly burden small producers.
  • Costco tests trimmings for E. coli before grinding.
  • E. coli gastroenteritis is usually a mild disease. Five to 10% can be serious and cause hemolytic uremic syndrome and kidney failure.
  • There is no question that the U.S.D.A. does not protect consumers from contaminated meat.
  • Hamburger meat is not safe unless you have a butcher grind up a full cut of beef.
I will not be buying hamburger meat ever again. I just threw out some frozen meat from my freezer. The article disgusted me and the description of the slaughterhouses reads like the turn of the century book, The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair , which eventually led to the Meat Inspection Act.

We have learned that we cannot count on the government to protect our finances and we should not count on the government to protect our food. It is up to each of us to learn about and support safe, small organic farming, eating from food sources that are close to home and certainly avoiding ground meat that comes from the grocer.

13 comments:

KM said...

When I see E.coli in the same head line as ground beef I immediately think of my relative who was born completely healthy and in the beginning of being in High school on a school break when eating a hamburger at the Chicago Airport ended up getting E.coli. Following that 18 years of dialysis 3 times a week, (like a part time job) surgeries, a extremely strict diet, a kidney transplant and anti rejection drugs side effects, until his body rejected it after 4 years. Then many years later lucky enough to find a new kidney match that is now successful. The lasting stress, emotional toll, trauma and limits it puts on a healthy teenager through a young adult's life is really tough, and could have been prevented.

Best Womens Health & Fitness said...

What a shocking story you have told KM...it is rather shocking the damaging effects E.coli can have on our bodies.

The hygiene aspect of food preparation these days is just appalling. I truly believe that if people knew exactly what went into the food they eat they'd never eat it again. I saw how meat pies were made once and have never touched one since.

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Anonymous said...

Your facts are based mostly on conjecture and bringing up an age old book that was needed in the time bares no relevance in modern society as the act which was started because of said book took care of most problems caused by the harsh conditions in slaughterhouses. E. coli is all around us and if a person gets a disease from the meat they eat then perhaps they should have cooked it properly or stored it properly. They sell meat thermometers in both digital and analog and most come with a list of temperatures to cook a variety of meat to. In conclusion people need to stop trying to stir up so much hype just to get hits on a blog or website. It's the same as stories in fake newspapers about batboy being found somewhere in Montana. It's fake and anyone that buys the paper and actually believes it are probably the same people supporting the causes here. If you are really that worried about the condition of your meat then support artificial meat growing labs or become a vegitarian and shut up.