The State of Meat: USDA report on contaminants in meat

THE WELLNESS BITCH SHARED THIS ARTICLE ABOUT a recent USDA Inspector General’s report on the quality of our meat supply. For those of you who don’t have time to read the article or report, here are the highlights (or maybe I should say lowlights).

What toxins were found in meat?

  • The U.S. meat supply is tainted with veterinary drugs, pesticides, and heavy metals.
  • These are chemical contaminants cattle are ingesting or injected with which remain in meat.
  • Unlike pathogens which may be cooked off, chemical contaminants can intensify when cooked, making them more harmful.
  • Antibiotics and veterinary drugs end up in meat because without these pharmaceuticals, cattle couldn’t survive the unnatural conditions and feed of the feedlots.

How do these toxins get into the meat?

  • Plants with violations are routinely allowed to continue operating. For example, in 2008 a plant with over 200 violations was allowed to continue operating because the violations were classified as “not reasonably likely to occur.”
  • Spent dairy cows (dairy cows to old to give any more milk) accounted for 90% of violations in a 2008 investigation, but they continue to be processed into meat.
  • After dairy cows give birth, they are dosed up with large quantities of antibiotics in order to recover. If the cow doesn’t recover fast enough she may be slaughtered, allowing all those antibiotics to enter the food system.
  • When a dairy cow gives birth to a male calf, it’s processed as “bob” veal and allowed to drink the antibiotic-filled milk from the mother cow. This milk isn’t allowed into the milk supply because of the antibiotics, but the antibiotics enter the food system anyway through the veal.
  • Farmers have started feeding livestock “distiller’s grains” – which is the waste left after corn is turned into ethanol.
  • Before you go thinking this is a good plan to use up the waste, remember that cows don’t naturally eat corn and need to be dosed on antibiotics to digest it. Also, the USDA has known since 2008 that animals who eat distillers’ grains are more likely to harbor dangerous pathogens like E. coli, but declines to regulate its use as feed.
  • Ethanol fermentation requires a lot of antibiotics to control it, so there are a lot of antibiotic residues in distillers’ grains. Distillers’ grains also have a lot of mycotoxins, which have been link to a fatal disease in pigs called Mulberry Heart Disease (MHD).

Where is the tainted meat going?

  • The tainted meat usually comes from low-grade producers, which means the meat is very inexpensive and is purchased by anyone needing cheap meat…
  • Like your child’s school.
  • Tainted meat also ends up in grocery stores, big-box warehouse stores, discount stores, and restaurants.

Who’s doing something about it?

  • The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), FDA and EPA are charged with establishing tolerance levels and minimizing contaminants in meat, but, as you can imagine, nothing much has been accomplished.
  • In typical government snake eating it’s own tail fashion, the EPA says the FSIS refuses requests to test for more pesticides but the FSIS says the EPA hasn’t established tolerances for those pesticides. Meanwhile, the FDA claims it can’t update testing methods and must continue to use old and outdated methods.
  • Tolerance levels haven’t been established and each year the FSIS tests for only one type of pesticide.
  • Recalls don’t address the why or how of tainted meat.
  • Regulators and producers often call for irradiation, however, irradiation doesn’t destroy heavy metals or pharmaceuticals.

What about the new food safety bills?

  • The new food safety bills give more power to the FDA while increasing the burdens on small growers and ranchers who are producing high quality food.
  • Instead of addressing the causes of contamination, the food safety bills create more bureaucracy and red tape in a system that isn’t working.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The article’s author, Mike Adams, puts it best when he says:

“Knowing the source of your food and how it has been raised is crucial to ensuring food safety for yourself and your family. And remember: You vote with your dollars. It’s up to you to choose food products from small, local growers rather than the corporate agro-giants that would much prefer to just shove their dirty, contaminated beef down your throat at every meal.”

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