Sunday, March 23, 2008

Downed Cattle

I wasn't going to post on this topic, however my conscience is forcing me to. You're probably aware of the meat recall that occurred earlier this year after the results of a Humane Society of the United States’ investigation of a dairy cow slaughter plant in California were released. If you didn't see the video I encourage you to watch it now.

There is a reason that downed animals are not eaten. The floors of slaughter houses are often covered with excrement. Dragging an animal through this can lead to contamination with a wide variety of fecal contamination- including E. coli. In the aftermath of the recall, I heard a lot of reports that no illnesses had been reported from consumption of the recalled meat. Dr. Dick Raymond, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety stated that "We don’t think there is a health hazard, but we do have to take this action."

No hazard!? One of the main reasons downed animals are not eaten is the risk they pose of carrying BSE (Mad Cow Disease.) This disease is very slow to develop and it could take decades before human transmission is evidenced. If Westland disregarded the inspection safeguard on non-ambulatory cattle, for two years, how can we be sure that specified risk materials were removed?

I am outraged that this situation was allowed to happen. How could a plant that provides meat to the federal food and nutrition program do this? Large amounts of this meat was given to the most vulnerable in our society. According to the USDA, this meat was used in the National School Lunch Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program, and the Food Assistance Program on Indian Reservations.

People need to start caring about their fellow man, rather than focusing on the bottom dollar. We need to care for our vulnerable populations not feed them meat that is not suitable for human consumption.

What can you do to protect yourself?
  • Limit meat consumption. Most Americans consume more protein than is optimal.
  • Grow your own. This is truly the best way to obtain food of any type. If you're the grower you know the state of health that your food supply is in.
  • Buy from a small local producer. Check around you may find someone who has a small herd of cattle and sells off whole or partial cows. Ask if you can inspect the animals.
  • Tour a local packing plant. If the public is watching, repeats of this type of gross violation of health standards are less likely to repeat. A tour will also keep you more in touch with where your food comes from.

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