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Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned

January 30, 2010

Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned

I can’t say how this article made me feel except that I wish every person in America would read it and consider the ramifications of a system where a foods safety is based, not on its quality, but on its relative content of pathogens. Below is a excerpt from the original Article Written by Michael Moss for the New York Times.

Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia.
Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli “to an undetectable level.” They decided it was so effective that in 2007, when the department began routine testing of meat used in hamburger sold to the general public, they exempted Beef Products.
Federal officials agreed to the company’s request that the ammonia be classified as a “processing agent” and not an ingredient that would be listed on labels.
school lunch officials say they use Beef Products because its price is substantially lower than ordinary meat trimmings, saving about $1 million a year.
Pathogens died when enough ammonia was used to raise the alkalinity of the beef to a high level, company research found. But early on, school lunch officials and other customers complained about the taste and smell of the beef.
The Food and Drug Administration signed off on the use of ammonia, concluding it was safe when used as a processing agent in foods. This year, a top official with the U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said, “It eliminates E. coli to the same degree as if you cooked the product.”
In early 2003, officials in Georgia returned nearly 7,000 pounds to Beef Products after cooks who were making meatloaf for state prisoners detected a “very strong odor of ammonia” in 60-pound blocks of the trimmings, state records show. Beef Products said the ammonia did not pose a danger and would be diluted when its beef was mixed with other meat. The U.S.D.A. accepted Beef Product’s conclusion.

Please read the whole article here:

Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned

What is happening is that the U.S.D.A is taking a problem, namely the unsanitary conditions of massive feedlot operations, and looking for what are often called “band-aid” solutions. They are taking an unsafe product and saying, “what can we add to this to make it safe?” Why is the department of Agriculture not saying, “What can we change to make this product safe in the first place?” This article is a perfect example of why it is becoming so important to embrace local foods and small farmers. When meat is produced on such a massive scale it becomes impossible to contain. A few cows and chickens raised on a pasture will never be able to cause the amount of damage that 27,000 pounds of tainted beef would to the U.S. Please do your best to support your local food system and embraced small scale farmers.

learninglifefromscratch@gmail.com

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