Woman paralyzed by E. coli-tainted hamburger is the headline in Boing Boing. The Times understates things a tad with: E. Coli Path Shows Flaws in Beef Inspection. “Shows that the entire process is diabolically unsafe” would be more to the point.
The frozen hamburgers that the Smiths ate, which were made by the food giant Cargill, were labeled “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.” Yet confidential grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.
Using a combination of sources — a practice followed by most large producers of fresh and packaged hamburger — allowed Cargill to spend about 25 percent less than it would have for cuts of whole meat.
Those low-grade ingredients are cut from areas of the cow that are more likely to have had contact with feces, which carries E. coli, industry research shows. Yet Cargill, like most meat companies, relies on its suppliers to check for the bacteria and does its own testing only after the ingredients are ground together.
This looking the other way when it comes to Cargill and the other big boys is especially amusing, in a disgusting way, in light of the fact that the USDA is trying to ram a mandatory national animal identification system down the throats of all American livestock farmers, large and small. What is the point of tracking every move of a live cow when you allow the Cargills of the world to make hamburger out of a foul casserole of meat, sundry parts, and crap (in the loose sense, as well as the specific) from Texas, South Dakota, and Uruguay!???