Tuesday, August 31, 2010



AOL News - Labor Day barbecues across the country might be a little leaner on the beef this year, as yet another recall of burger patties reminds consumers that potentially lethal dangers could be lurking in what they’re flipping on the grill. Cargill Meat, a Pennsylvania-based manufacturing firm, is recalling 8,500 pounds of ground beef sold through BJ’s Wholesale Club locations across the eastern United States. Three people have already fallen ill with E. Coli, and health authorities are warning that much of the contaminated meat is still sitting in home freezers. Of course, this is only the latest round in the decades-long debate over ground beef safety. From Oprah Winfrey’s 1996 admonition on disease-laden hamburgers to the more recent - and jarring - depiction of the meat production mill in 2008’s “Food Inc.”

Americans have been given lots of reasons to talk about meaty concerns, but at the same time, that hasn’t stopped them from chomping down on, and shelling out for, various cuts of bovine. The U.S. beef and cattle industry has seen steady increases in profit and sales over the last decade, dipping only slightly in 2009.

Hamburger is the No. 1 culprit for E. Coli infection in people, and has spurred dozens of recalls in the last five years. Despite reassuring labels like “sirloin” or “top choice,” ground beef patties are usually an amalgamation of cheap, leftover cuts of meat - from several different cows.
Some meat producers, including Cargill, often ship scraps from various facilities and suppliers to a central grinding location where patties are produced.

Many of the regulations governing the industry are opaque at best, and in the case of ground beef, there’s one major hole that’s yet to be plugged: the midpoint between meat arriving at a grinding facility and being combined into final retail product.

When ground beef is produced in such a manner, there's more opportunity for infection; usually it comes from feces on facility floors or within the intestines of cows being sliced and diced. Burger makers want to avoid this is known because they need to convince consumers that these products are safe to eat.

In “Modern Meat,” FRONTLINE speaks with numerous scientists and industry observers who raise serious concerns about today’s meat production system. With large numbers of animals being raised together in huge feedlots covered with feces, they say, it’s easy for bacteria to spread from one animal to another. “Cows tend to produce feces [and] feces are primarily bacteria,” says Glen Morris, a microbiologist at the University of Maryland and a former USDA official. “When those bacteria are spread around, there’s ample opportunity for bacteria to be spread from one cow to the next. “In the larger feedlots,” he adds, “there’s a greater chance for the passage of microorganisms back and forth. All of that contributes to the spread of microorganisms like E. Coli.” ... It’s virtually impossible to determine how many cows contribute to a single burger.

Dr Stephen Knapp (Śrīpad Nandanandana dasa) :
“The Dangers of Meat”
“Modern Meat: A PBS Frontline Documentary”

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