Cleaning Products, yes Cleaning Products
As antibiotics are no longer doing the job, meat producers are getting spooky creative. They are trying radiation, gasses, nitrites and even sprays made of viruses called bacteriophages to quell the germfest. Still, nothing has caused such reflexive revulsion as the news last year that meat scraps once earmarked for pet food were being resurrected as "lean finely textured beef" (LFTB) also called Pink Slime. While the product looked like human intestines, what really turned the national stomach was that it was treated with puffs of ammonia to kill the bacterium E. coli. The public was also outraged that the pink slime was supplying the National School Lunch Program. Its main producer, Beef Products, Inc., announced it was closing its production facilities, soon after the hoopla began. But there is another cleaning product used in meat production that is starting to make news: chlorine. According to the website MeatPoultry.com, "99 percent of American poultry processors" cool their "birds by immersion in chlorinated water-chiller baths." Who knew? The European Union and Russia are currently duking it ou t with US trade officials over the chlorine-dipped poultry that few Americans realize they are eating.
There is another product Americans eat every day that the European Union doesn't want: beef. The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures says the US's hormone-heavy beef production poses "increased risks of breast cancer and prostate cancer," citing cancer rates in countries that do and don't eat US beef. Like the "fine print" in lean finely textured beef, Americans are blissfully unaware of the synthetic hormones zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate that are part of the recipe for production of US beef. Melengestrol acetate, which is not withdrawn in the days before slaughter, is 30 times more active than natural progesterone says the European Commission. The powerful estrogenic chemical, Zeranol, is associated with early puberty and breast cancers charges the Breast Cancer Fund, a group dedicated to identifying and eliminating the "environmental causes" of cancer. "Consumption of beef derived from Zeranol-implanted cattle may be a risk factor for breast cancer," agrees a recent article in the journal Anticancer Research . And trenbolone acetate, a synthetic androgen? It is on scientists' radar because it masculinizes fish. Too bad USDA is not as cautious as the European Commission.
Mad Cow Disease
Many people have forgotten about Mad Cow Disease but the risks are far from gone, especially because the government has obfuscated. In its final report about the first US mad cow, found in December 2003, the government said "all potentially-infectious product" from the deadly cow "was disposed of in a landfill in accordance with Federal, State and local regulations." But the San Francisco Chronicle reported that 11 restaurants received the meat. Big difference. The sources of the Mad Cow Disease seen in a second and third cow were never found but the government protected the identities of the Texas and Alabama ranches and let them sell beef again within a month. Mad Cow and related diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease in deer are transmitted by prions which are "rogue proteins" that are not destroyed by cooking, heat, autoclaves, ammonia, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, phenol, lye, formaldehyde, or radiation, and they remain in the soil, contaminating it for years. Because Mad Cow Disease could destroy the US beef industry, officials are quick to dismiss possible human cases. When suspicious cases arise, officials call them "spontaneous" illnesses, not from eating bad meat--even before tests are in.