it’s The Jungle out there

Image via Flickr user VirtualErn, used under Creative Commons.
Image via Flickr user VirtualErn, used under Creative Commons.

The New York Times has an investigative report out today about E. coli in our meat.  Michael Moss writes that tens of thousands of Americans are sickened by E. coli each year, most of it coming from ground beef.  Though we like to think we’ve come a long way since Upton Sinclair first exposed the dangers of the meat industry in The Jungle over 100 years ago, despite all our science and technology, we really haven’t.  In fact, Moss writes, “eating ground beef is still a gamble.”

Why ground beef?  Moss writes:

Ground beef is usually not simply a chunk of meat run through a grinder. Instead, records and interviews show, a single portion of hamburger meat is often an amalgam of various grades of meat from different parts of cows and even from different slaughterhouses. These cuts of meat are particularly vulnerable to E. coli contamination, food experts and officials say.

In particular, he highlights a tainted batch of Cargill patties. The patties in question were

made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.

You may be shocked right now, thinking, WE EAT FOOD THAT’S BEEN SOAKED IN AMMONIA? Yep. It’s one of the things I learned while watching Food, Inc. which features scenes inside a plant where ammonia-soaked hamburger additives are made.  And yes, these additives are found in patties marked “Pure Angus.”  Tell me, which part of the Angus contains ammonia?? Continue reading “it’s The Jungle out there”