10/5/09

Killer Beef

The New York Times had a shocking report on what's in the typical hamburger patty yesterday. You go through life thinking the government and the meat industry must be doing the necessary things to insure food safety--they just must. But no. It turns out that's naive. The article makes that clear in a very scary way--by telling the story of a 22 year old woman who was paralyzed by eating an e. coli tainted hamburger. The last highly publicized e. coli outbreak in the US involved spinach, not meat, but the most common source of e. coli is meat. That makes sense--it comes from animal feces. And meat is the food that's in closest proximity. The feces is on cattle as they come into a slaughter house and in their intestines as they're "disassembled." Now feces getting into meat might seem like just a natural risk, but what the article reveals is how the bizarre process of concocting ground beef, plus lax regulations, heighten the risk. A hamburger, it turns out, isn't a hunk of meat that went through a meat-grinder. What's in the typical burger is "product" from many sources around the US and even elsewhere. What's in there? I'll just say: the article is a must-read. I can't imagine putting down the paper and biting into a hamburger.

11 comments:

amos said...

My father worked in a butcher's shop at one time, and eating hamburgers outside the home was strictly prohibited to us as children, because he knew (before the days of factory farming) what goes into hamburger meat. He bought hamburger meat himself, but in a butcher's shop where he had the meat ground in his presence.

Jean Kazez said...

If you're going to eat ground beef, I think that's the way to go--take hunk of meat, then grind. It's unbelievable what's in the usual hamburger patty...even the ones served in school cafeterias (according to the article)!

Wayne said...

ugh.... nasty. Thanks for the link! Makes me feel good about being a vegetarian. But in general, I wish the USDA would do more to maintain food safety.... Compared to what they do now, which sometimes feels like virtually nothing.

Transparency in our food would go a long way.

Wayne said...

On an unrelated note, I see that you're following in my footsteps with the whole vampires and vegetarianism thing. :) I haven't had a chance to read it, just saw the TOC on Amazon. Golden Compass and Philosophy comes out soon, and I have one on circumcision in that one.

amos said...

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/10/07-6

more on food safety

Jean Kazez said...

Here's an annoying article on the ABC news website. If you didn't read it carefully (and paid too much attention to the title--"Where's the Beef?") you could think it was telling you to stop worrying about meat and worry more about lettuce, etc. It also says some false things about the NYT report--that the woman ate meat from just three cows. It says no such thing.

http://tiny.cc/pnf1a

Jean Kazez said...

Wayne, Yes, I did follow in your footsteps. I need to do a post about vampires and vegetarians...and we can compare notes.

By the way, aren't you editing an anthology about...Agh, what was his name? I've never read him and I've been meaning to ask you what book(s) you would recommend.

Wayne said...

Yeah, I'm editing Neil Gaiman and philosophy. I would recommend the following in no particular order: Neverwhere, Good Omens (he co-authored with Terry Prachett... this might be my favorite of his), Coraline (its better than the movie), and The Graveyard Book (a riff off of the junglebook). If you're feeling particularly ambitious, read his Sandman comic book series (or at the very least read the "Seasons of Mist" story arc Issues 21-28 which can be easily found in tradepaper form at most bookstores.

Jean Kazez said...

Come on...you have to recommend one thing, and don't ask me to be ambitious! I've looked at tables full of his books and honestly just felt confused. So kindly just tell me what to read.

My husband has just disovered Terry Pratchett ("Small Gods") and seems to be enjoying him.

Wayne said...

Heh, okay. I'd start with Good Omens, and you can rent Coraline (and pretend that Wybie isn't real).

amos said...

another article on the subject
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/10/09-1