Congratulations to Michael Moss, of the New York Times, for winning a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for his expose “The Burger That Shattered Her Life.” According to the New York Times, his reporting on the ground beef industry “led the Agriculture Department to review it’s safety procedures and a major slaughterhouse and food retailer to agree for the first time to test raw ingredients that would go into ground beef.”
I remember reading his work and being shocked to learn that many ground beef producers wouldn’t sell to retailers who wanted to retest their meat for E. Coli contamination. The system still isn’t perfect (see my post on ground beef additives,) but at least someone is listening.
First of all, I have nothing against real ground beef. That is, I will eat beef that has been ground by my local butcher or trusted grocer. I love a good burger.
However, starting today, I refuse to eat ground beef from an unknown source (i.e. fast food restaurants and big chain grocery stores.) Not only does the ground beef industry refuse to allow retesting of their meat (they won’t even sell it to stores who retest it,) I just read that one company is taking parts of cow that are considered unusable, treating the beef “trash” with ammonia gas to kill harmful bacteria that tend to contaminate those cow parts, and selling it to be mixed with higher quality ground beef to make it cheaper for restaurants and schools (yes, schools!) This disgusting meat product, which doesn’t list ammonia as an ingredient, although it remains following treatment, may still harbor dangerous bacteria. It’s unbelievable.
I’m not touching ground beef from an unknown source or letting my kids eat it until the beef industry and the U.S.D.A get their act together. I’d suggest you do the same. Maybe if we all boycott their substandard, potentially dangerous product, they’ll stop trying trying to feed us beef products that used to be made into dog food.
For a more complete story, read today’s New York Times article at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/us/31meat.html?_r=1&hp