Bloggers from subject areas as diverse as cooking, law, business and sustainability are “broiling” today over a New York Times article that suggests ground beef is not as safe as it should be. The article, tracing both questionable industry practices and holes in federal oversight, is providing juicy fodder (no pun intended) for the blogosphere:
“One argument against regulation is that private companies have an incentive to conform to the highest standards to maintain their reputation. They won’t shift risks even when the opportunity arises because this will hurt them in the future. Yet, this argument does not always work, as this article in the New York Times on E Coli in ground beef explains.
Ground beef is combined together from different suppliers, much like a collateralized debt obligation. This makes it very hard to identify the source of an outbreak.”
“If you ever wanted proof that corporations matter more than people in our society, you need not look further than the New York Times article on how 22-year-old Stephanie Smith was poisoned by the O157:H7 strain of coli that contaminated a “burger” from food giant Cargill. As we learn in the article, this isn’t a case where a diseased animal somehow found its way into the food chain. It is a harrowing account of how industrial food is killing and maiming us.”
“It’s not hyperbole then to conclude that ground beef is not safe to eat, not cooked at any temperature. It’s been that way for years now. That wasn’t always the situation. As Bill Marler of Marler Clark Law Firm continually tells readers of his blog and Congress in his testimony [Download TestimonyEnergy], after the Jack-in-the-Box killer burger contamination in the early 1990s, federal leadership created a bullet-proof system for preventing that. Why that system broke down years later is something many food experts, including Marler, are investigating.
The pressure to create another bullet-proof system to ensure the safety of ground beef should come from the fast food industry. They have the most to lose from a national boycott on consuming burgers and the most power to affect change in meat processing. In fact, shareholders of Mickey D et al. should demand that kind of muscle be applied.”
“What is also extremely frightening is that certain beef suppliers will only sell their ‘product’ to processors that do not check the quality of their beef. There is, hence, tacit agreement or collusion between decision-makers in tiers of the food supply chain to explicitly and outrightly ignore quality of the product. And here we are speaking about food that we eat!
Ironically, other countries (and especially the continent of Europe) are paying much closer attention to the safety of the food that its consumers eat and are passing appropriate regulations and legislation.”
So how do you, gnovis readers, see our cash cow meat industry? Who is liable for the dangers of meat? Producers? Distributors? Federal government? Consumers? Which of the above blogs intrigue you most—the economic, legal, business or academic side? Perhaps you’re intrigued by a side not represented here. Weigh in on ground beef, the meat industry, food safety and federal regulation below!