Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More Problems With Our Everyday Ground Beef

Michael Moss, The New York Times reporter who wrote a great investigative piece last fall about contamination in ground beef, wrote another article last week further detailing the safety flaws in our food system.

Moss wrote that Beef Products Inc.—a major supplier of ground beef to McDo
nald’s, Burger King, supermarket chains and the federal school lunch program—uses an ammonia process that, according to Beef Products research, kills E. coli and salmonella.

I think it is extremely important to read the entire article, but the following bullet points will help elucidate the hypocrisy within the food safety system that Moss continually exposes.
  • The U.S.D.A., according to Moss, “accepted the company’s own study as evidence that the treatment was effective.” (Which, alas, it wasn’t.)
  • Because of this blind faith in Beef Products and its research, the U.S.D.A. did not test the company’s ground beef for pathogens, usually a routine act.
  • The Agricultural Marketing Service, the U.S.D.A. division responsible for buying food for the federal school lunch program, did conduct tests and found “E. coli and salmonella pathogens . . . dozens of times in Beef Products meat.”
  • According to Moss, “Top [U.S.D.A.] officials said they were not aware of what their colleagues in the lunch program had been finding for years.”
And a good reason why getting left back a couple times may not be the worst of things:
  • “The school lunch program will not buy meat contaminated with salmonella, [but] the agriculture department does not ban its sale to the general public.”
More on this soon.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

just further confirmation that our food system is a mess. Without sounding hysterical, the more i know, the harder it is becoming to eat out or shop at a grocery store. EA

Zia said...

I have food allergies, and this confirms suspicions I've had for years that product labels are frequently incorrect. I won't eat what I call 'composite foods' anymore. Reminds me too much of The Jungle.