In a typically enlightening and frightening Grist article, Tom Philpott notices a few nasty ingredients that are now going into your “conventional” hamburgers. Poultry litter, for one, thing, or in plain English, “feces mixed with bedding, feathers, and uneaten feed.”
A Missouri Extension publication blithely describes this gross practice as “provid[ing] opportunities for both the poultry producer and the beef cattle producer.” The Consumers Union sees it a little differently:
It can contain disease-causing bacteria, antibiotics, toxic heavy metals, restricted feed ingredients including meat and bone meal from dead cattle, and even foreign objects such as dead rodents, rocks, nails and glass. Few of these hazards are eliminated by any processing that might occur before use as feed. The resulting health threats include the spread of mad cow disease and related human neurological diseases, the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and the potential for exposure to toxic metals, drug residues, and disease-causing bacteria.
Philpott also points out that crude (i.e. unpurified) glycerin, a biodiesel byproduct which goes into cosmetics (in purified form) is now finding its way into feedlot food, as well as distillers grains, even though, as Philpott notes, “regulators acknowledge that the [latter] practice seems to encourage the growth of the deadly-to-humans pathogen E coli 0157. Distillers grains are also loaded with antibiotic residues and various industrial chemicals.”
And finally, because you might have missed it, the massive Huntington Meat Packing recall of beef tainted with e. coli 0157 was not a mere 866,000 pounds of ground beef (enough for 3.56 million Quarter Pounders). It was five times that amount!
As per the USDA
Huntington Meat Packing Inc., a Montebello, Calif., establishment, is expanding its recall of January 18 to include approximately 4.9 million additional pounds of beef and veal products that were not produced in accordance with the company’s food safety plan.
The USDA release also notes that the Huntington “recall was expanded based on evidence collected in an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) with assistance from FSIS.”
Are you lovin’ it yet?