Downed Cows

In February 2008, the USDA ordered the largest beef recall in US history – 143 million pounds of beef. The recall came 3 weeks after the Humane Society exposed the cattle abuse at a plant that supplies meat to 36 states and over 100,000 schools. Unfortunately, the recall included beef dated back to February 2006, so most had already been consumed. But, why would eating abused beef even effect our health?

Because the most common form of cattle abuse is forcing “downed” cows to stand for slaughter. It is against USDA regulations to slaughter an animal that can not stand on its own because the inability of the animal to stand indicates an unhealthy animal and downer animals have a higher likelihood of E. coli and Mad Cow Disease. But the slaughterhouses do not want to lose money on these sick animals, so they kick them, ram them with forklifts, jab them in the eyes, and shock them with electric prods, to try to force them to stand.

The exposed incident in February of 2008, unfortunately, is representative of a rampant practice in the industry. Not only is this routine cruel, but it is also dangerous to our health. As the meat industry has consolidated, larger plants process more animals than ever before. Plus, old dairy cattle (used for ground beef) are more prone to disease, and one sick cow can contaminate thousands of pounds of hamburger. A contamination in a single plant can effect consumers all across the country.

As the number of contamination outbreaks has increased, our animal health and food safety inspection system has declined. In a nutshell, there are not enough inspectors, and the inspectors are not equipped with adequate detection technology. The USDA has a lack of protection for whistleblower inspectors and slaughterhouse employees, and even has a history of disciplining whistleblowers. And, perhaps most detrimental to our health, the USDA relies on the meat processors, instead of federal inspectors, to control the sampling of meat products to detect contamination.
Breakfast: none
Lunch: Panini with mushrooms, spinach, tomato, onion, and hummus
Dinner: Veggie dogs (leftovers from Memorial Day weekend BBQs)
PS – Love this!


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