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Meat wagon

E. coli and Campylobacteriosis: Why Obama’s USDA food-safety pick is so important

Side of E. coli with that burger?In Meat Wagon, we look at the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. ----------------------------- As I reported Friday, a man with a Big Ag background has emerged as the frontrunner for a still-empty USDA post called "undersecretary of food safety." The holder of this position oversees the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which has the nearly impossible task of ensuring that our gigantic, factory-scale slaughterhouses produce safe meat. (The USDA handles safety issues around meat; FDA oversees safety for all other foods.) An excellent piece by Bill Tomson in Friday's Wall …

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Meat wagon

E. coli O157 comes back with a vengeance, and other nasty toxins in meat

Tainted burger, coming soon to a plate near you? In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. --------------------------------- (This is the first Meat Wagon column in months. No, the meat industry hasn't suddenly become socially and ecologically responsible. I've just been distracted by other topics.) Where's the tainted beef?If you regularly eat fast-food burgers or unlabeled supermarket beef, you've almost certainly consumed a JBS product in the past month. That's because Brazil-based JBS is the globe's largest beef producer--and the third-largest U.S. beef packer. And what a month it's been for this emerging …

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Meat Wagon: Filthy swine

U.S. officials dither while antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains creep into our pork supply

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. The good news is that people are earnestly trying to figure out if a deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria strain is infecting our nation's vast supply of pork. The bad news is, they don't work for a government regulator with the power to do something about it. Rather, they're university researchers and journalists, whose only real power is the public outrage they can generate through their work. Prepare to be outraged by the work of University of Iowa professor Tara Smith and veteran Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Andrew …

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Meat Wagon: Waste makes haste

Canada says no to ethanol waste as cow feed, and more

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. Back in January, a high USDA official made a pair of statements that say a lot about how we regulate industrial food production here in the United States. On the one hand, he admitted to a journalist that feeding cows high levels of distillers grains -- a the mush leftover from corn ethanol production -- had probably contributed to a spike in cases of beef tainted with the deadly E. coli 0157 bacteria. On the other hand, the official insisted that his agency had no intention of …

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Meat wagon: pork superbug!

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria thrives in CAFO pork, and Wall Street gobbles up Big Meat shares

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. Back in December, Michael Pollan wrote a important article about the antibiotic resistant bacteria MSRA, which Pollan decsribed like this: ... the very scary antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus bacteria that is now killing more Americans each year than AIDS -- 100,000 infections leading to 19,000 deaths in 2005, according to estimates in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Pollan writes that such strains have been around for a while, emanating from hospitals, where our medical experts quixotically drench patients with antibiotics, inevitably incubating resistant -- and …

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Meat Wagon: How now, mad cow?

‘Downergate’ reveals gaps in mad-cow testing and trouble in school-lunch sourcing

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. Remember those "downer" cows that got forced through the kill line and into the food supply in California's Westland/Hallmark beef-packing plant -- the ones caught on tape by the Humane Society of the United States? Rest assured, friends -- that was an isolated incident. Thus USDA assures us in a recent interview. Only ... not so much. For those who want to believe that downers don't make it into the meat supply, this was a rough week. First, Westland/Hallmark CEO Steve Mendell had to reverse …

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Meat Wagon: Beef behemoth

If deals go through, three firms will own 90 percent of the U.S. beef market

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. You'd be hard-pressed to find an industry more consolidated than beef-packing. Just four companies slaughter 83.5 percent of cows consumed in the United States. In standard antitrust theory, a market stops being competive when the four biggest players control 40 percent. The beef industry's extraordinary concentration gives the Big Four massive leverage to dictate how beef is raised and sold. Their economies of scale give them power to squeeze their smaller competitors, who have to scramble to keep costs down to survive. Their suppliers, known …

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Meat Wagon: Factory farms milk the government

Conservation title schemes, youth flee CAFO country, and a side of E. coli beef

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. In the business section of Sunday's New York Times, reporter Andrew Martin shined a bright light on a USDA program called the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP. Funded through the conservation title of the farm bill, EQIP was originally intended to support farmers who wanted to improve the ecological performance of their farms -- say, by sharing the cost of building a fence to keep grazing cows from polluting a stream. But in 2002 -- reported Aimee Witteman of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in a Gristmill …

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