Tag Archives | Meat Industry

The American Meat Industry Does Some Very Impressive and Terrifying Things

MeatDo you eat meat every day? Then you’re part of the problem. Cyrus Nemati explains at the Chicago Sun Times:

In the past 60 years, the United States has fallen deeply in love with meat. What was once a treat is now expected at every meal to the point where we can get it in a tube. The demand for meat has increased dramatically, and the largest meat companies have found ways to fulfill that demand cheaply. It’s not a surprise that the path to the six cent Chicken McNugget was built at the expense of not only the chickens themselves, but farmers and smaller meat plants. The quest for cheap meat has resulted in a ruthless market that has left 85 percent of supply in the hands of five companies.

This oligopoly has driven the meat industry to do some very impressive and terrifying things. We raise nine billion animals for the slaughter a year.

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Nicholas Kristof’s ‘Mass Meat’ Scandal Story

Lots of meatNicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, has discovered something that many of us have known for years: Tyson Foods and other agribusiness giants are doing some very, very bad things involving animal husbandry and meat production:

Where does our food come from? Often the answer is Tyson Foods, America’s meat factory.

Tyson, one of the nation’s 100 biggest companiesslaughters 135,000 head of cattle a week, along with 391,000 hogs and an astonishing 41 million chickens. Nearly all Americans regularly eat Tyson meat — at home, at McDonalds, at a cafeteria, at a nursing home.

“Even if Tyson did not produce a given piece of meat, the consumer is really only picking between different versions of the same commoditized beef, chicken, and pork that is produced through a system Tyson pioneered,” says Christopher Leonard, a longtime agribusiness journalist, in his new book about Tyson called “The Meat Racket.”…

…This industrial agriculture system also has imposed enormous costs of three kinds.

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The High Price of Cheap Meat: Shocking Animal Cruelty

Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone.

Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone occasionally delves deep into issues that most major publications would rather leave well alone. Case in point, its report on what it takes to provide America with cheap meat. Not for the faint of heart…

Sarah – let’s call her that for this story, though it’s neither the name her parents gave her nor the one she currently uses undercover – is a tall, fair woman in her midtwenties who’s pretty in a stock, anonymous way, as if she’d purposely scrubbed her face and frame of distinguishing characteristics. Like anyone who’s spent much time working farms, she’s functionally built through the thighs and trunk, herding pregnant hogs who weigh triple what she does into chutes to birth their litters and hefting buckets of dead piglets down quarter-mile alleys to where they’re later processed. It’s backbreaking labor, nine-hour days in stifling barns in Wyoming, and no training could prepare her for the sensory assault of 10,000 pigs in close quarters: the stench of their shit, piled three feet high in the slanted trenches below; the blood on sows’ snouts cut by cages so tight they can’t turn around or lie sideways; the racking cries of broken-legged pigs, hauled into alleys by dead-eyed workers and left there to die of exposure.

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Meat Industry Refuses To Say What Country Meat Comes From

meat

Must the food we eat be so mysterious? Grist writes:

Enjoy knowing where your grocery-store beef comes from, while you can: industry groups are suing the U.S. government because they don’t want to have to tell you the origins of your meat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture implemented new rules in May that require packages of meat to be sold with labels that identify the country in which the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. The rules also outlaw the mixing of cuts of meat from different countries in the same package. That pleased food-safety advocates, environmentalists, and some farmers.

But it angered large meat producers and grocery chains. “The result will serve only to confuse consumers, raise prices, and put companies out of business in the process,” Mark Dopp, of the American Meat Institute, a trade group, said in a statement. On Tuesday, the AMI and other groups announced they were suing to have the rules overturned.

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These Awful Food Practices Are Banned In Europe But Normal In The United States

toxic_atrazineJust great, ruin my lunch. Alternet has a sampling of some of the poisons prominent in the American food supply:

Atrazine. A “potent endocrine disruptor,” Syngenta’s popular corn herbicide has been linked to a range of reproductive problems at extremely low doses in both amphibians and humans, and it commonly leaches out of farm fields and into people’s drinking water. Europe banned it in 2013.

Arsenic in chicken, turkey, and pig feed. Arsenic is beloved of industrial-scale livestock producers because it makes animals grow faster and turns their meat a rosy pink. Arsenic-based compounds “were never approved as safe for animal feed in the European Union, Japan, and many other countries.”

Ractopomine and other pharmaceutical growth enhancers. Fed to an estimated 60 to 80 percent of US hogs, ractopomine makes animals grow fast while also staying lean. Unfortunately, it does so by mimicking stress hormones, making animals miserable. Pigs treated with it suffer from ailments ranging from hyperactivity and trembling to broken limbs and the inability to walk.

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You Are What You Eat

WARNING: Video features the slaughter and consumption of animals.


If you were to visit China in the 21st century, you may well stumble across one of the popular speed cooking competitions, where frenetically paced chefs transform live animals into animated culinary oddities: snakes are decapitated then chopped up into inch-long segments, which squirm on the plate several feet away from their freshly-severed heads; Ying Yang fish, their sides deep-fried and coated in sweet and sour sauce are devoured as they stare up, still breathing (if the fish isn’t breathing, naturally the chef is disqualified).

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The Meat Industry Now Consumes Four-Fifths Of All Antibiotics

Will our taste for flesh be what leads to the creation of super-strains of bacteria impervious to antibiotics? Mother Jones reports:

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed a set of voluntary “guidelines” designed to nudge the meat industry to curb its antibiotics habit. But the meat industry has been merrily gorging away on antibiotics—and churning out meat rife with antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

While human antibiotic use has leveled off at below 8 billion pounds annually, livestock farms have been sucking in more and more of the drugs each year—and consumption reached a record nearly 29.9 billion pounds in 2011. That suggests that meat production might be getting more antibiotic-intensive.  To put it another way, the livestock industry is now consuming nearly four-fifths of the antibiotics used in the US, and its appetite for them is growing.

 

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Burger King Admits To Serving Horse Meat

Photo: Chrisloader (CC)

Now that Burger King has fessed up to serving horse meat in its burger patties, one wonders what other animals made it into its not so delicious offerings. Gawker sums up the scandal:

Though it initially made “absolute assurances” that all of its burgers were 100% beef, Burger King has been forced to admit that some of its patties may have contained horse meat, after traces of equine DNA were found at one of their processing plants.

The scandal started two weeks ago, when supermarket chains in the UK and Ireland began pulling certain beefburger products off the shelf after test concluded that they contained varying amounts of horse meat.

The tainted product was traced back to three processing plants, one of which — Silvercreft Foods — supplies Burger King restaurants in both the UK and Ireland with some of their patties.

“Our independent DNA test results on product taken from restaurants were negative for any equine DNA,” the company said in a statement.

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