Salmonella, In-Your-Guts Flame Resistance, and More – The Latest from the Meat Industry

Interesting how something as small and basic as a bacterium can consistently make the front page headlines. Boulder County news sources reported that last Thursday, three people in Boulder, Colorado tested positive for the strain of salmonella found in ground beef recalled in June. Authorities had recalled the beef, which was sold at King Soopers stores, after 23 area residents fell ill from consuming it. The chain subsequently recalled 466,236 pounds of ground beef products.

Salmonella is an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of animals and humans. In humans, salmonella infection causes diarrheal illness, fever, or abdominal cramps, and potential long-term health problems. Salmonella infection is spread through fecal matter, either by direct contact or by, say, consumption of feces-contaminated meat. Yikes. If the infection spreads beyond the intestines, antibiotic treatment may be necessary.

The King Soopers meat recall highlights several disturbing problems with the meat industry, including the often unsanitary conditions of feedlots and meat packaging facilities. Moreover, USDA meat inspection protocol did not prevent distribution of the meat to consumers. Perhaps most alarming, though, is the antibiotics factor. Many cows are fed antibiotics to make them resistant to their filthy living conditions and to aid their digestion (since most cows are fed corn, which their ruminants do not process properly). Researchers have even reportedly found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in grain distilling plants (including ethanol distillers), which sell their by-products as livestock feed. Overexposure to antibiotics fuels salmonella’s resistance to it, which is bad news for those of us down the line who shop at King Soopers.

Incidental but disturbing-and-intriguing nonetheless is the risk meat eaters (versus vegetarians) face of having flame retardants in their innards. Yes, flame retardants. Science Daily reports that flame retardants may enter the meat supply through contamination of animal feed or processing or packaging processes.

Going vegan is sounding mighty tempting…..

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

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