Contaminated meat in our supermarkets

The government has SWAT style raids on private buying clubs who dare to sell raw milk to their own members, but does not consider it important if a large part of our meat is contaminated with semonilla.  Our priorities are completely screwy.

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The USDA Says It’s OK to Sell You Tainted Meat

Dear Reader,

I want to share a couple of statistics with you. But before I do, I’ll issue a little warning…you may never be able to look at a turkey burger in quite the same way again.

According to the feds, at least 10 to 15 percent of ground turkey is contaminated with salmonella.

Ready for another one?

Three-quarters of the salmonella found in that contaminated turkey meat is antibiotic-resistant.

Since you’re a regular reader of the HealthierTalk.com Digest, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how the bacteria ended up that way… right?

Ding, ding…yes, you guessed correctly! That’s right, the factory-farming practice of dosing its livestock up on antibiotics has given birth to new breeds of bacteria that are now resistant to the very drugs developed to combat them.

Just how widespread is this practice? At the end of last year, the FDA finally released the shocking figures. It turns out that 29 million pounds of antibiotics were fed to our food supply in 2009 alone.

In fact, it’s estimated that more than 70% of the antibiotics sold in the United States are being used on cows, pigs, and chickens that aren’t even sick. They’re being used simply to fatten the animals up and to ward off the effects of the unsanitary conditions typically found on the factory farms where the animals are forced to live out their short cramped lives.

So, let’s recap. The factory-farming industry insists on continuing to follow a dangerous practice that has led to the birth of drug-resistant bacteria that contaminate our food supply, can make us very sick, and, in the worst-case scenario, may even kill us.

So what’s the U.S. Department of Agriculture doing about it?

Hold on to your hat. That would be essentially a whole lot of nothing.

You may remember that earlier this month Cargill, a giant meat processor in the United States, issued a recall on 36 million (yes, million) pounds of ground-turkey products after they were linked to salmonella contamination. At last count at least 79 people had become ill and one had died.

In fact Bill Tomson of the Wall Street Journal reported that during a routine inspection of the plant last year, inspectors found three samples of meat contaminated with the same antibiotic-resistant bacteria…known as salmonella Heidelberg…that was ultimately linked to the illnesses and death that finally prompted the recall.

Yep, that’s right, the USDA was aware of the salmonella contamination well before people started getting sick. Yet nothing was done about it beyond informing Cargill’s management of the findings.

Bet you’re asking “why?” about now. I wondered too. It turns out that selling salmonella-contaminated meat, including the varieties that are contaminated with antibiotic-resistant strains of the bug, is not against the law.

No, sadly, I’m not kidding. In fact, the USDA simply acknowledges that ground poultry is highly contaminated and encourages us to cook meat thoroughly, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees on a meat thermometer, and assures us that we’ll then be just fine. And if the lag before a recall of the Cargill meat is anything to judge by, apparently the agency is really only interested in issuing a recall only after the products have made people sick.

So as Big Farming execs continue to play Russian roulette with our health with little to no incentive to change their dangerous ways, my advice is the same as always. Make a commitment today to no longer support this industry until it makes some radical changes.

Thankfully, organic and sustainable farming is on the rise and it’s easier than ever to find these foods at your local supermarket or farmers’ market. To find locally grown and sustainable food in your area, try www.localharvest.org and to locate pasture-based farms or ranches, try Eatwild’s Directory of Farms.

Thinking that talking turkey has taken on a whole new stomach-churning meaning, I am…

Alice Wessendorf

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