Closing the barn door after the cows have left..

I just finished reading Fast Food Nation, and the book was quite disturbing. One of the most upsetting parts–the gory details of the U.S. beef industry. And now we have the largest beef recall in American History. See story here:

Huge Beef recall stems from California plant

The beef industry regularly mistreats cattle and serves meat tainted with e-coli and other diseases. The entire system is set up with a drive for higher productivity, and higher profits, at the expense of safe food, safe working environments for workers, and animal rights. This beef recall is really telling and I find three things particularly disturbing about this article.

1st–this meat was served to school children, where the government has a policy to buy the cheapest–and often times unsafe–meat for our children. Low bid contracts, without concern for food safety–is a real problem of school lunch programs. As a mother I find this appalling.

2nd–regular workers and plant managers were fired as a result of the recall. Laying the blame on low level employees for abusing cattle and selling beef from sick cattle to our nations schoolchildren is really disturbing. At most of these slaughterhouses, policies as to how to handle sick cattle come down from the top, and I highly doubt some immigrant and likely illiterate workers made the decision to shuffle sick cattle along and sell the stuff. I’m also skeptical that such a decision was made by a plant manager–unless intense pressure for higher profits was put on him from the top of the company.

Finally, the most disturbing fact of the article–
“Officials estimate that about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, but they believe most of the meat probably has already been eaten.”
Great. And that is the problem with a system that uses recalls–rather than proper prior safety inspection of plants–to regulate the beef industry.

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