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Book Looks at Factory Farms, Food Safety

Gristle: From Factory Farms to Food Safety (Thinking Twice about the Meat We Eat), a book co-edited by the multifaceted (and multi-platinum) musician Moby and food policy activist Miyun Park, hit shelves last week as the newest addition to a growing stack of books criticizing industrial agriculture.

gristle-cover.jpgMoby, who has been a vegan for almost 30 years, is unabashed about the book’s agenda: to shift people away from supporting the industrial production of meat, eggs, and dairy for a “healthier, cleaner, and more humane world.”
 
“That’s what this book is about, the rarely publicized ramifications of industrialized farmed animal production and meat, egg, and milk consumption on the environment, human health, communities, workers, taxpayers, zoonotic diseases, global warming, global hunger, and, of course, the animals themselves,” he writes in the introduction.

Moby and Miyun bring together fifteen contributors to examine an ambitious breadth of food and agriculture topics–including human health, agriculture subsidies, environmental degradation, worker’s rights, rural economics, food safety, and even global hunger–all in just 150 pages.

Contributors include John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, Paul Willis, manager of Niman Ranch Pork Compnay, Christine Chavez, former political director of the United Farm Workers Union, and Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, and Brendan Brazier, two-time Canadian ultra marathon champion.

The book touches on a number of specific food safety and quality concerns, including puss allowances in milk, dioxins in fast food, and the use of bovine growth hormone.

In Chapter 9, Michael Greger, MD, director of public health and animal agriculture for the Humane Society, discusses a broad range of zoonotic diseases linked to animal agriculture. According to Greger, most human infectious diseases–measles, smallpox, avian influenza, SARS–originally came from animals.

He also describes the problems with fecal contamination in meat products.

“Unless one treats their kitchen like a biohazard lab, there can be cross-contamination of contagion,” writes Gerger. “In meat-eating households, researchers have found more fecal bacteria in the kitchen–on sponges, dish towels, the sink, and counter surfaces–than they found swabbing the rim of the toilet. We shouldn’t have to cook the crap out of food.”

Moby and Miyun will both be in Washington, DC today at Busboys and Poets on 14th St. NW at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the book.

© Food Safety News
  • jmunsell

    First of all, I’m a voracious meat eater. Having said that, the discussion of cross contamination above is precisely correct, and in fact underestimates the probability of cross contamination in food preparation areas in homes, restaurants, retail meat markets and in cafeterias. What else should we expect?
    USDA/FSIS knowingly allows the large slaughter plants to ship into commerce intact cuts of meat which are surface-contaminated with E.coli 0157:H7. The agency blithely classifies such E.coli are only contaminants, not adulterants, when found on intact cuts. Then, when downstream facilities (restaurants, retail meat markets, etc) further processes these intact cuts of meat, then and only then does the E.coli bugs supernaturally morph into adulterants, capable of killing consumers. And of course, the agency assigns full responsibility for the presence of these pathogens against the victimized downstream entities which purchase this USDA-Inspected and Passed meat. Yup, we now have USDA-Inspected and Passed 0157:H7 bugs!
    A recent agency prolamation reveals again how USDA intentionally insulates the large slaughter plants from accountability. Directive 10,010.1, Rev 3, states that when downstream further processing plants process intact cuts purchased from their source slaughter providers, and produce “bench trim” from those intact cuts for grinding into burger, if E.coli 0157:H7 is detected in the bench trim, the agency concludes that all bench trim produced that day is adulterated. Why? Because the bench trim (in which E.coli 0157:H7 is found) had come into contact with work surfaces, such as cutting boards and saws. Therefore, the work surfaces may also harbor residual E.coli 0157:H7, which then would likely cross-contaminate meat cuts subsequently placed on those work surfaces later in the day.
    This description reveals how the agency views cross contamination at the small downstream processing plants, retail meat markets, and restaurants. It is vitally important to compare this to how the agency views the possibility of cross contamination upstream, at the large SOURCE slaughter plants where the beef were initially killed, fabricated into component pieces, which are then shipped into commerce.
    The large originating slaughter plants can easily produce over a million pounds of fat trim a day, which is destined for ground beef. When these huge slaughter plants break down beef carcasses into all their component pieces, enormous amounts of boneless trimmings are produced. These huge slaughter plants typically place such boneless trimmings into 2,000 lb combos, and perform microbial analyses on each combo. If lab tests reveal the presence of E.coli 0157:H7 in the boneless trimmings, the entire combo is “DIVERTED” to a plant which fully cooks the trimmings, which kills the pathogens. Chili plants are an example of a fully cooking plant.
    Now, does USDA then declare that ALL boneless trimmings produced at the large slaughter plant that day be considered to be adulterated? NO!!! Are you kidding? Therefore, USDA assumes that the E.coli-contaminated trimmings did NOT come into contact with any work surfaces at the large slaughter plant, therefore there is NO possibility of residual E.coli pathogens on the plant’s equipment which might cross-contaminate pieces of meat subsequently placed onto the equipment. These huge plants have conveyor belts which criss cross their processing rooms, carrying various meat cuts to different locations. It only stands to reason that when meat cuts adulterated with E.coli 0157:H7 are placed onto these belts, that pathogens are deposited onto the belts which will then subsequently adulterate other meat cuts which are later placed onto the belts. USDA disagrees.
    Bottom line: USDA insulates the large slaughter plants from accountability for the presence of E.coli 0157:H7, and ships all acountability downstream to the further processing destination plants who are now expected to (a) detect incoming invisible pathogens, and (b) remove these pathogens. Interestingly, the invisible pathogens were NOT detected and removed at the large source slaughter plants……by either the plant or USDA. Nevertheless, USDA expects that downstream facilities dry clean all adulterated meat arriving at their docks.
    Unfortunately, USDA disparages the possibility of cross contamination at the large slaughter plants, while using aggressive enforcement actions against the small destination facilities which are allegedly noncompliant with food safety mandates.
    Realizing this, America is virtually guaranteed ongoing outbreaks and recurring recalls, because USDA concludes that E.coli 0157:H7 cross contamination cannot occur at the large source slaughter plants. Egads, Americans, wake up! USDA, figuratively speaking, is in bed with the big slaughter plants, lacks the courage to challenge the big slaughter plants with enforcement actions, and we all pay the price via sicknesses.
    John Munsell

  • Will Nichols

    I’m OK with just ensuring my beef is cooked! Haven’t gotten sick yet from our mainstream beef supply — I just ensure that my hamburgers are heated to 165 F internally and my whole muscle foods are cooked on the outside and I’m safe and good to go!

  • Arthur

    Will, you may think you are “safe and good to go,” but what about the tortured and murdered animal you just consumed? Or the abused worker, with no rights, who risks his/her life—literally—for a pittance to provide these unnecessary and harmful “foods?” Not to mention your heart, stomach, intestines and arteries that are suffering the cumulative onslought of eating poison.

  • John Munsell

    First of all, I’m a voracious meat eater. Having said that, the discussion of cross contamination above is precisely correct, and in fact underestimates the probability of cross contamination in food preparation areas in homes, restaurants, retail meat markets and in cafeterias. What else should we expect?
    USDA/FSIS knowingly allows the large slaughter plants to ship into commerce intact cuts of meat which are surface-contaminated with E.coli 0157:H7. The agency blithely classifies such E.coli are only contaminants, not adulterants, when found on intact cuts. Then, when downstream facilities (restaurants, retail meat markets, etc) further processes these intact cuts of meat, then and only then does the E.coli bugs supernaturally morph into adulterants, capable of killing consumers. And of course, the agency assigns full responsibility for the presence of these pathogens against the victimized downstream entities which purchase this USDA-Inspected and Passed meat. Yup, we now have USDA-Inspected and Passed 0157:H7 bugs!
    A recent agency prolamation reveals again how USDA intentionally insulates the large slaughter plants from accountability. Directive 10,010.1, Rev 3, states that when downstream further processing plants process intact cuts purchased from their source slaughter providers, and produce “bench trim” from those intact cuts for grinding into burger, if E.coli 0157:H7 is detected in the bench trim, the agency concludes that all bench trim produced that day is adulterated. Why? Because the bench trim (in which E.coli 0157:H7 is found) had come into contact with work surfaces, such as cutting boards and saws. Therefore, the work surfaces may also harbor residual E.coli 0157:H7, which then would likely cross-contaminate meat cuts subsequently placed on those work surfaces later in the day.
    This description reveals how the agency views cross contamination at the small downstream processing plants, retail meat markets, and restaurants. It is vitally important to compare this to how the agency views the possibility of cross contamination upstream, at the large SOURCE slaughter plants where the beef were initially killed, fabricated into component pieces, which are then shipped into commerce.
    The large originating slaughter plants can easily produce over a million pounds of fat trim a day, which is destined for ground beef. When these huge slaughter plants break down beef carcasses into all their component pieces, enormous amounts of boneless trimmings are produced. These huge slaughter plants typically place such boneless trimmings into 2,000 lb combos, and perform microbial analyses on each combo. If lab tests reveal the presence of E.coli 0157:H7 in the boneless trimmings, the entire combo is “DIVERTED” to a plant which fully cooks the trimmings, which kills the pathogens. Chili plants are an example of a fully cooking plant.
    Now, does USDA then declare that ALL boneless trimmings produced at the large slaughter plant that day be considered to be adulterated? NO!!! Are you kidding? Therefore, USDA assumes that the E.coli-contaminated trimmings did NOT come into contact with any work surfaces at the large slaughter plant, therefore there is NO possibility of residual E.coli pathogens on the plant’s equipment which might cross-contaminate pieces of meat subsequently placed onto the equipment. These huge plants have conveyor belts which criss cross their processing rooms, carrying various meat cuts to different locations. It only stands to reason that when meat cuts adulterated with E.coli 0157:H7 are placed onto these belts, that pathogens are deposited onto the belts which will then subsequently adulterate other meat cuts which are later placed onto the belts. USDA disagrees.
    Bottom line: USDA insulates the large slaughter plants from accountability for the presence of E.coli 0157:H7, and ships all acountability downstream to the further processing destination plants who are now expected to (a) detect incoming invisible pathogens, and (b) remove these pathogens. Interestingly, the invisible pathogens were NOT detected and removed at the large source slaughter plants……by either the plant or USDA. Nevertheless, USDA expects that downstream facilities dry clean all adulterated meat arriving at their docks.
    Unfortunately, USDA disparages the possibility of cross contamination at the large slaughter plants, while using aggressive enforcement actions against the small destination facilities which are allegedly noncompliant with food safety mandates.
    Realizing this, America is virtually guaranteed ongoing outbreaks and recurring recalls, because USDA concludes that E.coli 0157:H7 cross contamination cannot occur at the large source slaughter plants. Egads, Americans, wake up! USDA, figuratively speaking, is in bed with the big slaughter plants, lacks the courage to challenge the big slaughter plants with enforcement actions, and we all pay the price via sicknesses.
    John Munsell

  • To check out recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST) in dairy cows, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility’s website at http://www.oregonpsr.org has all kinds of information, including a video, brochure, consumers’ guide to rBGH-free products, list of harmful effects on cows, etc.
    Oregon PSR also facilitates a nationwide coalition of organizations and individuals opposing rBGH. For more information and/or to learn how you can help, feel free to contact Rick North at hrnorth@hevanet.com or 503-968-1520.

  • Doc Mudd

    Cook your favorite meat thoroughly, consume it in moderation. Enjoy life! Oh, and don’t place too much credence in free medical advice hawked by rock musicians or activists-for-hire.
    .
    Vanquishing one’s self to veganism over this is a bit extreme. And…food is certainly not “poison”, as some would have you worry – that’s just silly. Lord, if I adopted everyone else’s baseless fears and hypochondria I’d be a nervous wreck myself. Too bad for those so afflicted, but their little phobias are their own to deal with. The rest of us have hearty meals to enjoy, interesting work to do and pure fun to pursue with our families. Heck, some of “us” will certainly outlive some of “them” – happens all the time!