Monday, February 18, 2008

Beef Recalls: How Safe is Our Food?

Another beef recall was announced recently, this one being the largest recall in US history. A California slaughterhouse has been accused of mistreating cows, and they agreed recall 143 million pounds of beef in what federal officials called the largest beef recall in U.S. history. There have been no cases of reported illnesses from this beef, but the undersecretary of agriculture for food safety, Dick Raymond, said that there is a remote possibility that it could cause illness in humans. The recall is considered a Class II recall, which indicates there is little risk of the beef causing any illness. The recall dates back to February 1, 2006, but the general feeling is that most of the meat involved in the recall has probably been eaten already.

Can the USDA keep up with all the requirements of food inspection? It seems that with all the focus on beef handling over the years to keep out mad cow disease, that unsafe meat handling and processing is still taking place. Funny, on January 17, I wrote in this blog about cloned beef (see link here ). It won’t really matter much if the beef is cloned or not if the cows are not been properly raised, handled, and processed.

While I believe that the majority of meat sold in the US is raised and processed properly, it does make me wonder what is happening behind the scenes when the USDA inspectors are not there. The fact that there must be a recall of this size when there are supposed to be guidelines in place already governing beef processing tells me that the USDA is not doing its job.

At least for me, if I continue to eat beef, I will only get it from reputable grocers, and will avoid at all costs those mass-market merchandisers of beef products. While I don’t eat much beef now, I admit I’m thinking of completely dropping beef off my list of foods I eat.

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