>> Thursday, December 31, 2009

"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."
(Um.... how is that entrepreneurial exactly???) The NY Times published a very interesting article about the quality and processing of leftover beef bits. The "entrepreneurial" company, plainly named Beef Products Inc, actually gained exemption from the USDA in 2007 for having supposedly undetectable levels of E.Coli. (Yummy right?) Beef Products became a mainstay meat for fast food restaurants like McDonalds and was widely served in lunch rooms.
"Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated."
As the number of cases of E.Coli and Salmonella tainted meat grows every year, one can't help but think of the children. I noticed the pressure on the quality of school lunches started to accelerate in '09. Hopefully more Americans are shifting their focus more towards better health standards in public institutions.
"School lunch officials said that in some years Beef Products testing results were worse than many of the program’s two dozen other suppliers, which use traditional meat processing methods."
And yet, despite obvious problems, this meat is still being used. You needn't ask why, this answer is plain: BECAUSE IT'S CHEAP. Behold the power of the almighty dollar.
Nuts to the FDA for approving this process, which uses ammonia as a processing agent but doesn't require it to be listed on the label. Ammonia is naturally present in meat, it's true, but injecting fatty and discarded hunks with extra amounts seems obviously wrong. "She can't take much more ammonia sir! She's already loaded as she is!" Besides sometimes smelling like ammonia (enough reason to keep walking) and tasting not-quite-right, I'm not sure how any logically-minded worker or Beef exec didn't have the mind to pause and reflect on what exactly they were doing to FOOD.

I find it absurd that there's so much excess meat, enough to cause a significant loss in profit, that it needs to be chemically treated and sold. I won't rant on how we should, at the very least, shrink the industry and focus on quality meats. I'll save that for another time.

I suggest you go read the article and think for yourself. If you feel so inclined, write to the USDA and/or FDA about this issue. And before you order that drive-thru hamburger, consider this...
"At 6:36 a.m. on Aug. 10, the Beef Products plant in South Sioux City, Neb., started up its production line for the school lunch program. In 60 minutes, the plant produced a batch of 26,880 pounds of processed beef that tested positive for E. coli.
Six days later at the same plant, another 26,880-pound lot was found to have salmonella, government records and interviews show."
That's a quality assurance FAIL if ever I saw one.
Eat healthy and responsibly!

Citation: Quotes and Image
Moss, Michael. "Safety of Beef Processing Method is Questioned". New York Times. 2009: 1-4. 12-30-09.


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