gallery CODE RED: MEAT SAFETY

Over 95% of all farm animals in the US are raised on factory farms.”[i] From cradle to grave these animals experience nothing but suffering. The conditions at factory farms are beyond despicable, animals are deprived of sunlight, exercise, fresh air, they’re crowded and cooped up their entire lives in tiny cages not fit for any creature. They’re fed gmos, manure, carcasses of dead and diseased animals,[ii] you name it, as well as provided daily doses of antibiotics giving rise to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

At a time when both food recalls and antibiotic resistance are ramping up, the number of food inspectors should be increasing.  Instead, President Trump as soon as May of 2019 is cutting the number of federal inspectors at pork facilities by 40%![iii] Rather than inspectors, plant employees will bear the responsibility for ensuring the meat is safe and uncontaminated.

In 2018 the USDA decided to allow poultry slaughterhouses to speed up their lines from 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute.[iv] That doesn’t even allow 1 full second to inspect a bird. Along with the new changes for the pork industry, the USDA is permitting unlimited speeds for pork slaughter lines. In what world could such changes be a good idea?

According to PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) “between 2013 and 2017 there was an 83% increase in the most hazardous meat and poultry recalls known as Class 1. These recalls are most likely to cause a health hazard or death.”[v] Was this a result of the HAACP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) integration that began in 1998? While theoretically HAACP should’ve improved the process, it actually shifted control away from inspectors and instead to each meat processing plant. Instead of inspecting meat first hand, the inspectors now moreso review data submitted by the meat facilities.[vi]

At cattle slaughter houses, there’s more troubling news. In 2004, Dr. Lester Friedlander, veterinarian and federal inspector got fed up with the system. He spoke out about conditions and said there’s a lot more in beef than we know: “Hormones, antibiotics, hair, feces, cancers, tumours. My plant in Pennsylvania processed 1,800 cows a day, 220 per hour. It also processed the highest number of downed cows[vii], 25 to 30 a day… There is no question. Some cancers end up in the human food source.” Inspectors and handlers are encouraged to look the other way if they notice anything that should be flagged. The reason, stopping the line cost the plant roughly $5000 per minute.[viii] In speaking with the Winnipeg Free Press, he said the current U.S. administration has altered regulations to allow slaughtering plants to erect walls to prevent USDA veterinarians from watching the killing line.

Friedlander with Dr. Kellosalmi, founder of The Responsible Animal Care Society believe there’s more danger related to the conditions at factory farms. “They will be the breeding ground for the next global human pandemic, he warns. Already, the feeding of cattle offal to cattle has spiked an enormous increase in brain-wasting BSE in beef herds and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.”
“Even more worrying is that Nobel Prize winner Dr. Stanley Prussiner, who discovered prions, the aberrant protein that triggers BSE and CJD, now believes prions may also cause Alzheimer’sdisease. Dr. Kellosalmi says the number of Alzheimer’s deaths in the U.S. has spiked from 800 in 1979-80 to 50,000 in 2002.”[ix] The prion link continues to gain evidence in 2019.[x]

From 1906 to 2019 we’ve nearly come full circle. Due to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle in 1904 and the increased public awareness of the unsanitary conditions at meat packing facilities, President Theodore Roosevelt created the country’s national meat inspection system. “The Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 (P.L. 59-242) and the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967 (P.L. 90-201) were designed and implemented to provide the public with a safe, wholesome meat supply. Today’s consumer relies on the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors to ensure this.”[xi]

Without sufficient meat inspections are we falling back to times reminiscent of The Jungle? The before mentioned PIRG Report points out, “The current, convoluted system splits primary responsibility for different foods between the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the FDA. This has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination and inefficient use of resources.” Seems the agencies need to get their act together, or these meat facilities should all be closed and the big farms broken up.  If only Harvey Wiley[xii] was here today to get the FDA and USDA in order—boy would he shake things up!

Read more about today’s food supply in my soon to be released book! Coming Soon!

 

[i] https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/farm-animal-welfare

[ii] They Eat What? What Are They Feeding Animals at Factory Farms? Organic Consumers Association, https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/they-eat-what-what-are-they-feeding-animals-factory-farms,

Doug Gurian Sherman, Union of Concerned Scientist, Cafos Uncovered, April 2008, https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/food_and_agriculture/cafos-uncovered.pdf

[iii] Trump Administration Gives More Power Over Meat Inspections to Pork Industry, April 3, 2019, the Daily Beast,

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-administration-to-give-more-power-over-meat-inspections-to-pork-industry

[iv] New Investigation Highlights Dangers of High-Speed Slaughter, ASPCA,Nov 29, 2018, https://www.aspca.org/news/new-investigation-highlights-dangers-high-speed-slaughter

[v] Viveth Karthikeyan, Adam Garber, “How Safe Is Our Food,”

US PIRG Education Fund, https://uspirgedfund.org/feature/usf/how-safe-our-food

[vi] What is HAACP, Modern Meat, Public Broadcasting Corporation, Frontline, 2014, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/evaluating/haccp.html

[vii] Matthew Wald, “Meat Packer Admits Slaughter of Sick Cows,” New York Times, March 13, 2008

[viii] Martha Rosenberg, Death of Meat Inspector Highlights Conditions at Nation’s Slaughterhouses, Intrepid Report, June 26, 2013, http://www.intrepidreport.com/archives/10015

[ix] Frances Russell, The Costs of Factory Farming, Winnepeg Free Press, Nov 26, 2004, https://newspaperarchive.com/winnipeg-free-press-nov-26-2004-p-14/

[x] Jennifer Frazer, The Case for Transmissible Alzeheimer’s Grows, Scientific American, Feb 7, 2019, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/the-case-for-transmissible-alzheimers-grows/

[xi] Institute of Medicine (US) Food and Nutrition Board. Cattle Inspection: Committee on Evaluation of USDA Streamlined Inspection System for Cattle (SIS-C). Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1990. 2, INTRODUCTION AND HISTORICAL REVIEW OF MEAT INSPECTION. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235649/

[xii] Harvey W. Wiley, FDA Consumer Magazine, Centennial Edition 2006, https://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/History/FOrgsHistory/Leaders/ucm2016811.htm

 

TYG

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