“The Burger That Shattered Her Life” tells the story of Stephanie Smith, a then-healthy young adult who became paralyzed in 2007 after eating a hamburger—made by the American food giant Cargill—that was tainted with E. coli.
The article makes clear that while Smith’s “reaction to the virulent strain of E. coli was extreme,” the process of making seemingly harmless hamburgers is a crapshoot. “Neither the system meant to make the meat safe, nor the meat itself, is what consumers have been led to believe.”
There is insufficient government oversight of the suppliers, slaughterhouses and producers, many of which are self-policed. This leads to many situations that can have toxic consequences.
It is wishful thinking to believe that the hamburger Smith ate was just ground meat from a cow from a local ranch. Unfortunately, our industrial food system is much more complicated and unsafe than that.
According to the article:
"The hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria."Even more disturbing is one of the reasons why:
"In all, the ingredients for Ms. Smith’s burger cost Cargill about $1 a pound, company records show, or about 30 cents less than industry experts say it would cost for ground beef made from whole cuts of meat."What a shame. More on this tomorrow.