Could You Be Eating Sick Beef?

Written by dr. j. Posted in Food, Health Matters

patagonian ranchA couple of weeks ago, the largest recall of beef in U.S. history occurred. Over 143 million    pounds of raw and frozen beef were recalled by the FDA. The concern? Downer cows were being slaughtered and included into the meat you and I eat.

What are downer cows?

These are cows that have collapsed after their pre-slaughter inspection, are presumed sickly and cannot walk (thus down-ers). They are considered unfit for human consumption. These cows may eventually end up as dog or cat food.

They also may carry Mad Cow Disease.

But this recall affect much more than just the meat. Just think of what is made with the meat. Everything from soups & sauces to burritos & bouillon cubes.   The costs could run much higher, into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Despite the fact that the USDA shut down one of the suppliers of the meat and suspended 2 inspectors (with pay), Agriculture Secretary, Ed Schafer, stated that he would not endorse an outright ban on so-called downer cows entering the food supply.

Why not?

If the USDA states that downer cows are not fit for human consumption, why not ban their use in people food? It comes down to one thing…

Money!

The Humane Society is not taking this lightly. They have filed a suit against the  U.S. Department of Agriculture over a "loophole" that allows unhealthy cows to get into the food supply. They supported their case with undercover videos of slaughter house workers applying sprayed water and electric shocks to cows that were too sick or too weak to stand without help…to get them up and going.

Just the other day, I was talking with a client who used to raise livestock and  help with the slaughter and preparation of his foodstock animals. He stated that he does not eat the meat anymore, at least not the meat that is being fed to other inmates because it smells rancid.

Rancid meat….that can’t be healthy.

Earlier this year, there were recalls of beef due to contamination with Salmonella and E. coli. It was not an isolated event; this is happening all across the U.S.

The question that remains is where is all this contamination coming from? Could it be from our current farming practices? Our use (or overuse) of antibiotics in livestock? Our feeding them genetically altered grain, grain that uses E. coli as a carrier for the genetic marker? Or could it be our feeding cows animal byproducts, byproducts which could also be tainted?

That’s a lot of places where bad things could be happening. Way too many. But it just doesn’t seem right that sick cows can be ground up and fed to us as food!

It’s interesting to note that the company cited by the USDA for the violation  (Westland) was named Supplier of the Year for the 2004-2005 National School Lunch Program.

Hummm…I wonder how much tainted beef has actually made it into the school lunches of kids over the years? One story states that much of this recalled meat has already been consumed (scary thought).

I’ll let you guess by whom…

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