American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle brought meat regulatory issues into the spotlight on Comedy Central’s Emmy award-winning Colbert Report Tuesday night. Boyle appeared on the show for part 12 of Stephen Colbert’s “35,000-part series,” dubbed “Know Your Lobby,” which grills Washington lobbyists.

The hilarious four-minute segment–which discusses food safety, meat consumption, and cannibalism–was based off a grueling two-hour interview with Boyle, the lead spokesman for 95 percent of the American meat industry.

“This country was built on meat,” proclaims master satirist Colbert at the beginning of the segment. “Its been a part of our history ever since the declaration of our independence was branded on a flank steak. Check the signatures closely, you’ll see one of them is Jimmy Dean.”

Colbert hits AMI, the “fightin’ meat men,” as he calls them, over the use ammonia for food safety and for opposing the regulation on six non-O157 strains of E. coli.

“One way the AMI is looking out for you is by defending sterilizing beef with ammonia,” says Colbert, hinting at the recent controversy over a New York Times expose on the practice. “So not only will your beef be disease-free, once it passes through you it will leave your toilet with a mirror shine.”

“The AMI recently opposed a bill introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY] that would require the USDA to regulate six additional strains of disease-causing E. coli. Bravo,” says faux-conservative Colbert. “I say we let the market regulate E. coli, because if you get a burger with E. coli, you’ll never buy that hamburger again.”

“I would not encourage you to eat any strain of E. coli,” says Boyle, who begins to explain why AMI opposes Gillibrand’s bill but is abruptly cut off by Colbert.

The food safety exchange continues and Colbert asks, “Should I be able to get my burger rare?”

“I would not order my burger rare,” says Boyle.

“I don’t want you to take this as an insult, because it’s not meant that way, it’s just an observation, but you sound like a coward,” Colbert retorts.

“Although I’ve had a lot of tough interviews in my day, that was definitely the toughest and most unique interview experience of my career,” Boyle said in an AMI statement yesterday. “I was honored to play straight man to the hilarious Stephen Colbert and to demonstrate that while meat processing is serious business, we can be good sports.”

You can watch the full segment here:

  • Paul Nunes

    Brilliant!