Like some ammonia with your hamburger? NY Times article on E.Coli in Beef.

If you haven’t yet, read The NY Times recent article about ground beef and E.Coli. It highlights many of the factors why E.Coli recalls still are quite common, in fact according to some it’s a problem that’s getting worse. It tells the story of one young lady who was tragically paralyzed by eating a hamburger.

The article made a lot of interesting points, here are a few gems to chew on, many of which you may have heard before:

  1. Packaged ground beef can be composed of the meat of hundreds of different cows that are not just across the county, but even from outside the US. They follow one batch of ground beef and its pretty amazing to see what they find.
  2. Some processors actually use ammonia, AMMONIA, in ground beef to kill E.Coli. Ever wonder what that slight chemically taste was? This was news to us!
  3. Most meat used is from spent dairy cows or steer too old to put in the feedlot system.
  4. Big meat industry players are not doing much to address this issue, in fact they lobby hard to ease testing for E.Coli
  5. One of the main sources of E.Coli is that cattle from feedlots are smeared with feces, after all they don’t see pasture, they are just knee deep in their own excrement, so wouldn’t you guess it’d find its way into the meat? Especially since slaughthouses kill thousands of animals in a day, rarely slowing up the production for animal welfare, or as we see in this case ensuring healthiness of the meat

There’s a lot more, so read it when you get a chance.

We did feel there was one unfortunate omission, they never addressed the question: ‘Why is there E.Coli in the first place’.

Well according to study after study, the high grain diet that is fed to cows in feedlots is a major culprit. Grain is fed since it will get cattle to slaughter weight faster and cheaper than grass but it also make cows very sick since their stomachs are suited for grass, not grain. Grain diets help to promote the development of new strains of E.Coli that are toxic to humans.

The point here is not to add ground beef to the growing list of things to be scared of; everything has some danger, riding a car, chewing gum etc.  But the key here is that it doesn’t have to be this way, cattle do not have to be feed food that makes them sick and causes public health issues. They dont need to be kept by the thousands in packed stockyards with no access to pasture which causes significant environmental issues.   But that is the modern food industrial complex’s means for providing $1.50/lb ground beef.  Is it worth the price?

In case you are wondering, our beef is from cattle that are strictly grass fed, they never get any grain. And of course no use of antibiotics, hormones, ammonia or irradiation is ever used.

Some more information:

No E. Coli or Mad Cow Disease in Grass-Fed Beef

Diet And Disease In Cattle: High-Grain Feed May Promote Illness And Harmful Bacteria

Power Steer by Michael Pollan:

Most of the microbes that reside in the gut of a cow and find their way into our food get killed off by the acids in our stomachs, since they originally adapted to live in a neutral-pH environment. But the digestive tract of the modern feedlot cow is closer in acidity to our own, and in this new, manmade environment acid-resistant strains of E. coli have developed that can survive our stomach acids—and go on to kill us. By acidifying a cow’s gut with corn, we have broken down one of our food chain’s barriers to infection. Yet this process can be reversed: James Russell, a U.S.D.A. microbiologist, has discovered that switching a cow’s diet from corn to hay in the final days before slaughter reduces the population of E. coli 0157 in its manure by as much as 70 percent. Such a change, however, is considered wildly impractical by the cattle industry.

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply