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General News    H2'ed 5/9/14

Five Gross Ways Your Meat is Kept Safe to Eat

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It is no secret that in the war against meat pathogens in commercial U.S. meat production, the pathogens are winning. The logical result of the tons of antibiotics that Big Meat gives livestock (not because they are sick but to fatten them) is clear: antibiotics that no longer work against antibiotic-resistant diseases like staph (MRSA), enterococci (VRE) and C.difficile. Antibiotic resistant infections, once limited to hospitals and nursing homes, are now in the community and have been found on Florida public beaches and on the highway behind a poultry truck. Big Meat has found some novel ways to retard the growth of salmonella, E.coli and listeria on commercially grown meat--but it does not necessarily want people to know about them and they are conspicuously absent from labels.

Chlorine Baths

If you want to know the most problematical ingredients in our food supply, just look at what the European Union boycotts starting with GMOs, hormone beef and chicken dipped in chlorine baths. U.S. Big Food lobbyists are pushing hard to circumvent the European bans says MintPress News, especially "bleached chicken." They claim that the "many unwarranted non-tariff trade barriers" severely limit or prohibit the export of certain U.S. agricultural products to the EU." That's the idea. In fact, the EU has not accepted U.S. poultry since 1997.

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Why do U.S. poultry processors use chlorine? It "kills bacteria, controls slime and algae, increases product shelf life [and] eliminates costly hand cleaning labor and materials" in addition to disinfecting "wash down" and "chilling" water. "Pinners" in the slaughter facility who remove the birds' feathers by hand wash their hands with chlorinated water to "reduce odors and bacterial count" after which the birds are sprayed to "wash all foreign material from the carcass." Meat is similarly disinfected with chlorine, says one industrial paper, especially because conveyer belts are "ideal breeding grounds for bacteria."

In a 2014 directive, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) admits the many uses of chlorine in poultry and meat production none of which are required to be on the label under the "accepted conditions of use" (which limit the parts per million of chlorine allowed). And it gets worse. The FSIS directive also reveals that chlorine gas is used on beef "primals," giblets and "salvage parts" and for "reprocessing contaminated poultry carcasses." Bon appetit.

Ammonia

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It has only been two years since the nation's stomach churned when it saw photos of "pink slime" oozing out of processing tubes and bound for U.S. dinner tables and the National School Lunch Program. Looking like human intestines, "lean, finely textured beef" (LFTB) was made from unwanted beef "trim" and treated with puffs of ammonia gas to retard the growth of E. coli. While the company making most of the nation's LFTB, Beef Products Inc. (BPI) shuttered three plants and laid off hundreds of employees two years ago, it is since fighting back and has brought a lawsuit against ABC news. The suit alleges "that ABC launched a disinformation campaign that had an adverse effect on BPI's reputation, and used the term 'pink slime' to describe the company's LFTB even after it had been provided factual information about the product," reports Beef magazine. And, indeed, a quick look at the FSIS's 2014 directive, whose purpose is to provide an "up-to-date list of substances that may be used in the production of meat, poultry and egg products," shows that "lean, finely textured beef" is alive and well. "Lean finely textured beef," says the FSIS, is treated with anhydrous ammonia, "chilled to 28 degrees Fahrenheit and mechanically 'stressed.'" Ground beef is also treated with anhydrous ammonia "followed with carbon dioxide treatment." Neither treatment appears on the meat label.


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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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