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Beef Recalls: Caused by Chronic Staff Shortages?

I don't eat red meat all that often, but all these beef recalls make me scared to eat it at all. As consumers, we have the right to know what's causing these thousands of pounds of beef to be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. I wouldn't have guessed it, but it looks like it may have to do with lack of staff and inspectors at slaughterhouses.

When there aren't enough workers, there's no way to properly inspect every single animal. Fewer workers also mean that the ones who are working are less likely to follow the rules. When the Humane Society of the United States set up undercover cameras at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. (where beef was recently recalled), they discovered workers kicking and shoving sick and crippled cows, forcing them to stand by using electric prods and forklifts. Not only is this unquestionably cruel, but cows that are too sick to stand carry a higher risk for mad cow disease. Also, since they are lying in feces, they're more likely to carry E. coli and salmonella, too. Unfortunately it also boils down to money. If you have a cow that's "downed" and can't be used for meat, that's 300 pounds of beef the meat industry isn't getting paid for. Now I remember why I try to eat lower on the food chain.

So with all this said, it's believed that most consumers will shrug off beef recalls. So I was wondering, do recalls affect your decisions when buying or eating meat?


Join The Conversation
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
I only buy from halal farms/butchers because they're mandated to raise their animals naturally and humanely, and the animals must also be slaughtered humanely, with every part of the animal being utilized for food/clothing/whatever in some manner. I wish more consumers that eat meat would look into where they get their meat from, not just because of their own health and safety, but because we're all creatures in this world, and since the human body is developed to consume meat (though we've devolved, I'd say, in that we eat cooked meat rather than raw in MOST cases), we should be using every part of the animal and not causing undue agony to our fellow earth-dwellers.
moss1080 moss1080 9 years
I don't eat red meat at all and yes, reports like this do add to my conviction. It is almost impossible to eat chicken, which I rarely do, and if more facts are presented to me I may become a vegetarian.
movingforward movingforward 9 years
I stopped eating beef a few years ago, and this just reinforces my own will not to eat beef. I'm not really clear why I stopped eating it, anymore. I think it was a combination of fear of mad cow disease and a distrust of the power of the U.S. cattle industry. I read somewhere that less than 1% of all cows are tested for BSE. Just thinking about how the U.S. beef industry treats cows as a product really bothers me, I don't need to see the video. Japan stopped importing U.S. beef, and 64 other countries have full or partial bans on it. If a whole country is abstaining from it, I think we should really think hard about why we "need" to eat beef so much.
nikolem2 nikolem2 9 years
This is common practice in the business of raising meat. It's the #1 reason why I have been a vegetarian for about 10 years now. If people really knew how meat is raised as a commodity, forced to eat food that's completely unnatural and indigestible, forced to live in close, disease-ridden quarters and barely able to move, fed a diet of antibiotics simply b/c the conditions they are raised in are SO disgusting, I think most people would never touch it again.
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
I don't eat beef or pork...Chicken is up next...
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
"Now I remember why I try to eat lower on the food chain." Does this mean you are a vegetarian? I'm guessing so, because cows don't eat chickens and fish! Yay...another veggie!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
There aren't enough workers because the meat industry and agricultural lobby puts pressure on the govt. and USDA to stay out of their business. The agricultural industry is the least regulated industry in the US today. The number of inspectors has actually declined. The govt. doesn't even really have the power to do anything but pull its inspectors from the factory when something like this happens. Other than mad-cow, I don't understand why people avoid red meat or cows solely...all animals are mistreated and at least cows fall under the humane slaughter act. It's not like chicken and pigs aren't contaminated with bacteria just as much as cows are.
marygrace marygrace 9 years
People shouldn't be eating meat anyway. Or chicken, or fish.
DDSMDHopeful DDSMDHopeful 9 years
Those poor cows; as a vegan, reading this saddens but does not surprise me.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I don't worry about it because mad cow disease is only caused by cattle eating feed made from reprocessed cattle brains (which is illegal, btw). And any meat that IS contaminated with E. coli or Salmonella is safe to eat once it has been heated to 140 degrees. If you are worried about getting sick, just be sure that you don't cross contaminate when you are cooking (avoid getting raw meat juices on anything that isn't going to be cooked) and WASH YOUR HANDS a lot when you are cooking!! And buy a meat thermometer.
ccsugar ccsugar 9 years
All right! After nearly 10 years of not eating red meat, I recently started eating it again. After reading this though, I think I'll go back to chicken/fish only... Sad.
JudyRie JudyRie 9 years
I haven't eaten conventionally raised beef since the first US mad cow case in December 2003. In the past 4+ years, I've probably eaten less than 10 pounds of beef total (maybe closer to 5, honestly). If I hadn't already been going without beef, I probably would have thought again after seeing the video. A good friend of ours, who thought we were NUTS for not eating beef, went to lunch with my husband, and my husband noticed he wasn't eating beef. He asked, and sure enough the friend was so disturbed by the video that he couldn't eat it, at least for now.
laurini laurini 9 years
I think it effects my meat-buying. Since all these scary recalls, I've cut down on the amount of red-meat dishes I'll prepare, and now I'm just switching over to meat alternatives (for beef. Can't give up chicken and fish!). I really think I would have tried the smart ground before, but now this scary recall business has encouraged me to try tempeh and saitan as well...
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 9 years
I don't think that the cows being in poop would cause e-coli- its transfered during the slaughtering and processing. The mad cow is when they eat other cows, not when they are sitting in poop. (I think anyways!) That being said, I will ONLY eat beef from a sustainable grass fed farm whose practices are NOT in question.
DreaAST DreaAST 9 years
I haven't bought any since the recall but that is just because I didn't. I love meat but I don't like to think about where the meat came from.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
I haven't had any red meat since those recalls, mostly because it scares me, but also because the allegations of the way that the cows were being treated made me want to cry.
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