… Meat should be handled like feces because it is commonly contaminated with fecal pathogens…
Another beef recall: What's really in your burger
By Gene Baur, Opinion Contributor, The Hill
Baur is president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, a national farm animal rescue and advocacy organization, and a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill.
Our nation is in the midst of yet another massive meat recall — this time involving more than 12 million pounds of tainted beef. Hundreds of people have been sickened and dozens hospitalized with salmonella poisoning, as the government reminds consumers about the importance of taking precautions to avoid being infected.
The reality: Meat should be handled like feces because it is commonly contaminated with fecal pathogens, which is why it’s important to wash our hands and sanitize utensils and anything else that meat has touched.
In addition to foodborne outbreaks that lead to food recalls, illnesses caused by unknown pathogens and other factory-farm contaminants also occur, and this will remain a constant risk — especially if cows, pigs, chickens and other animals exploited for food continue to be confined in disease-ridden conditions and killed at slaughterhouses where profit and speed guide the process.
Factory farms cut corners and routinely act irresponsibly, undermining animal welfare, worker safety, environmental protection and consumer health. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has acted as a willing accomplice. It permits high levels of pus cells (i.e. somatic cells) to be present in cows’ milk, and it even allows ailing animals to be slaughtered and sold for human consumption, including animals who are too sick even to walk, referred to as “downed animals.”
For decades, activists campaigned to prevent downed cows from being used for human food, but despite the risk of mad cow disease, the government dismissed and denied these concerns, adopting a “don’t look, don’t find” posture.
The USDA finally admitted the presence of mad cow disease in the United States, and this led to regulations in 2008 to prevent the slaughter of downed cows for human consumption. This is a positive step, but it was implemented too slowly and begrudgingly, and there are still unacceptable risks to consumers. The USDA continues to allow diseased animals, and downed animals other than cattle, to be slaughtered and used for human food, and slaughterhouse-inspection practices are notoriously inadequate.
Ironically, the only federal law that prohibits cruelty to farm animals is an oxymoron called the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act...
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