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Why Is a Burger Still Unsafe?
(Photo: Flickr/Adam Kuban)

(Photo: Flickr/Adam Kuban)

Stephanie Smith went to her mom’s house for dinner, ate a hamburger, and ended up in convulsions, in a coma, paralyzed.

American food safety has come back as a big issue in public health. Leafy greens, eggs, sprouts, berries, ice cream — they can all get you.

But the story of the grindings and goo from around the country and the world that went into Stephanie Smith’s nicely-packaged hamburger is a wake-up call.

This hour, On Point: We’ll talk with the reporter who tracked it down, and look at the issue of food safety — and the problem with hamburger.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Joining us from New York is Michael Moss, investigative reporter for The New York Times. His article tracking how one woman was paralyzed by E. coli in a hamburger, and the flaws in beef inspection her story reveals, ran on the front page of last Sunday’s paper.

Update: In a followup post on the On Point blog, Moss addresses the apparent surge of hamburger E. coli outbreaks since 2007 and what experts say might be the cause.

Joining us from St. Paul, Minn., is Kirk Smith, supervisor of the Minnesota Department of Health’s Foodborne Illness Unit.

And from Issaquah, Wash., we’re joined by Craig Wilson, assistant vice president for food safety and quality assurance for Costco, one of the few big producers that tests beef “trimmings” for E. coli before they are ground into hamburger meat.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Cory

    (FFL x LEFR) + DAI + ISS = FI

    Where FFL = facory farm livestock, LEFR = lack of effective federal regulation/oversight, DAI = dangerous agricultural imports, ISS = ineffective sanitation standards, FI = foodborne illnesses.

    I love a good burger as much as the next fat guy, but I’ll be the first to admit that the current meat production paradigm is unsustainable and inherently dangerous. I look forward to the show.

  • Cory

    Don’t forget the disconnect between what a commodity is worth and what we (Americans) are willing to pay. How much would a pound of ground beef cost if the steer was raised/produced in this country, by citizens of this country, abiding by environmental and safety regulations of this country? We get beef from Mexico, and seafood from China. Should we be suprised if we occasionally get tainted product?

  • john craine

    After reading the New York Times article describing what goes into commercial “ground beef” I vowed never to eat another preprocessed, preformed hamburger or any other commercially processed food containing ground beef. It’s just another example of how our food system has been coopted by the drive for profits over quality.

    Grind your own beef in a food processor using the less expensive cuts, such as chuck, from the meat case. It’s very little extra effort and you have complete control over the quality and source of your food.

  • http://www.tedauch.com Ted Auch

    I don’t say this as a vegan (although I am) I say this as someone who is concerned about our trajectory as a nation….The way we treat livestock reflects directly how we treat each other. If we continue to treat animals, all animals this way illness will continue to rear it’s ugly head. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Agricultural animals have been crying out for a long time now for mercy. We continue to ignore their call and now the reaper is knocking at our door.

  • Ray

    I never buy ground beef. I buy sirloin, grind and cook it before freezing. It makes it easy to make quick meals without the worry of cooking the meat properly. Why not sell all ground beef already cooked. Think of it as a processed meat like hot dogs.

  • Mari

    I wonder is this true of all ground meat? What about ground turkey and ground chicken? I thought those were heakthier alternatives.

  • Putney Swope

    Why not sell all ground beef already cooked
    Because this would not eliminate the problem and would taste awful.

    Don’t buy frozen patties. By the way there was little or no Angus beef in those frozen patties, what was in them was disgusting.

    Buy your beef from a good butcher, spend more eat less.
    I only buy beef a few times a year. However I eat chicken and they have the same problem.

    Safety in the kitchen is the best practice, clean everything, wash your hands.

  • Christine

    Does ground pork have the same issues as ground beef?

  • http://wrni ellen parker

    what is the safest ground meat to buy? is kosher safer?

  • Tracey Betts Sarefield

    We pay $7.50 per pound for local, sustainably grown Massachusetts beef, chicken, pork and lamb. 15 pounds a month is more than enough for a family of 3, plus a couple of dinner parties a month. Small price to pay for peace of mind. One does not have to be involved in this industry. Imagine another situation where the industry blames the consumer?? “You didn’t cook the product enough”? It’s a tainted product!

  • http://sewanee.locallygrown.net Jessica Wilson

    I am an organic vegetable producer and a local foods advocate. Still, I was amazed to hear that the ingredients in one burger came from around the world! I buy my ground beef from a friend and farmer who raises his meat on pasture and processes it at a local, USDA certified, slaughterhouse. This slaughterhouse is one of a very few independently operated slaughter houses in the area and without it many local farmers would not be able to sell their meat legally. Food safety needs to be improved in this nation but it needs to be done in a way that ensures that these small, independently owned, operations can continue to function. They are vital to our local food economy and I see them as a very weak link in the chain.

  • ray

    I grill ground sirloin hamburgers, then I freeze them. You can’t tell the difference between the ones fresh off the grill and the ones reheated in the microwave. It all depends on the quality of meat you start with. My burgers are leaner than any ground meat at the store.
    Nothing is nastier than ground turkey. It is removed from the bones with wire brushes.

  • Hana Pegrimkova

    Food MANUFACTURING? These two words should never be used together.
    The way my mom used to make ground meat was by buying a piece of meat at the butcher and grinding in up at home in a few moments. We just have to get back to being able to take care ourselves, to feed ourselves, be responsible for our own well being. It is healthy, tastes much better and it is fun!
    We do have more options, (small independent food stores, farmers…).

  • Max

    why don’t we start making our own darn hamburgers? what’s the point in buying premade and frozen ones? they taste awful and they have no meat! in the end the time savings are offset by poor quality of your meat.

    buy beef chuck, grind it or buy freshly ground beef at your grocery and mix it with your own favorite ingredients. it takes 5 minutes and chances are that piece of meat has lower contamination -and more meat!- than that used in processed ground meats and carcasses parts coming from all over the world and mixed in megaplants.

    cooking your own food made your own way as grandma used to do do…it’s a no brainer…why have we all become such lazy asses?

  • Frederic

    I like hamburgers. Luckily our local grocery store’s butcher raises his own cattle and sells it to the store. The beef is ground on location in the butcher shop. The price difference is minimal.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    So, I take it from the comments above that cooking does not eliminate this bacteria? Can E. coli live through all kinds of cooking?

  • Tamara

    I’m glad you’re raising awareness regarding acute, pathogenic diseases that can arise from eating meat once. But in a way this misses the point and diverts attention from the real problem with meat -especially since such incidents are rare. Wouldn’t it behoove us more to create discussion regarding the chronic diseases that can develop from a meat-centric diet that is at the core of the average American’s diet? Such illnesses as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and some cancers kill thousands of people each year. The chance of developing them can be greatly reduced by decreasing meat consumption in general. Instead of focusing on how to cook your meat safely or being more vigilent about where you buy your meat, why not raise awareness about chronic conditions directly correlated to meat consumption?

  • Don Smith

    Why can’t it all be irradiated?
    Don

  • Kate

    “I was amazed to hear that the ingredients in one burger came from around the world!”
    Yes, our food is global business!! I just read the bottle of my “healthy” apple juice (bought from Whole Foods)- and the apples are from China and South Africa!

    The meat industry does not have to disclose the origin of meat- and we as voters should demand that.

    On a side note- I work and spend a great deal of time in South America. I would take Uruguayan beef over most US beef any day. Most beef in Uruguay is still free-range and grass fed…

  • Dayle Ann Stratton

    I am surprised that this is still an issue, after all the well-publicized outbreaks over the last decades. I suspect people think that each time means that there is a crackdown and tightening of regulation so that now it is safe.

    Regulation cannot protect mass marketed foods, as your program is demonstrating. It is not enough. (And the problem is compounded by the fact that virulent strains of e. coli- itself a natural and necessary gut bacteria– have developed as a result of unregulated use of antibiotics by feedlots and other meat factory farms).

    People need to be aware of where their food comes from. Even in cities this need not be as difficult as it has been made. The “locavore” or local food movement offers an alternative, and even those who shop at supermarkets can change the food culture by insisting on knowing where the products they buy come from. Or try shifting to local outlets: coops and farmer’s markets. The added cost is worth both your peace of mind and knowing that you are supporting local food producers, members of your community.

    I qualify as low-income, but I do nearly all my shopping at my local coop or directly from the producer. I do not eat beef, but I do eat other meats– but only from local producers I either know personally or who sell directly to my coop. I avoid uncooked ground meat products, period.

  • Joy

    Tom The soulution is simple: cook ground beef to an internal temp of 160 degrees F. If we would do this we would kill most if not all of the bacteria in our meat. Check the CDC’s website about e-coli.

  • Ray

    Ground meat is particularly vulnerable because of the amount of surface area. Contamination is spread by mixing. Time from point of contamination to purchase allows the problem to grow. Cooking at point of grinding prevents the problem from growing.

  • Danna Metes

    With respect to the apparent discrepancy in number of cases of contamination in meat versus vegetables relied on by the vegetarian commenters we heard: I would imagine that as consumers we have a great deal more control over the cleaning and decontamination of the vegetables we eat than over the meats – could this be one reason why there are fewer reported cases of illness and contamination caused by leafy greens and berries than by pre-packaged ground beef?

  • Mickie

    Is kosher beef any safer?

  • http://www.minorheresies.com Minor

    If we want cheap meat we will have deadly meat. Read Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Earl Butz, Carter’s Sec of Ag, decided that we should have cheaper food. He changed the rules for corn subsidies to make corn heavily subsidized and cheap. This meant that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) could cheaply fatten cattle (and chickens and pigs) on corn.

    Problem: Cows are supposed to eat grass. When they eat grass their stomachs are pH neutral, and the bacteria in them can be killed by acid. Our stomachs are acid, so the E. Coli die and we live. Feed a cow corn and its stomach is acidic, like ours. The E. Coli live and we die.

    Our slaughtering and processing methods wouldn’t be so critical if the cows ate grass.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Joy: Would you say that the meat in the image above is cooked “correctly” to kill bacteria or is it too rare? Will correct cooking kill E. Coli?

  • David

    Thanks for this sharing this vital information into everyday foods. I was wondering are hotdogs also at risk?

  • Aaron

    It’s disingenuous for Michael Moss to point to the USDA list of most hazardous foods to say that meat is not the only real risk. If leafy greens, sprouts, or strawberries are contaminated with E. coli, the ultimate source is manure used as fertilizer, which is to say— meat.

    The honest potrayal of the problem is that it is indeed caused by meat-eating, and we need to get away from eating animals and using animals in our food system in any respect. A vegetarian diet is not safe enough; people ought to consider the safety and health benefits of giving up tuna, cheese, eggs, oysters, and all other animal products on that infamous list, and eating a vegan diet.

  • Stelios

    Hi Tom,

    For several years I used to run a small neighborhood meat market, which I had inherited from my father. Based on my experience as a former seasoned butcher here is my advice:

    Rule #1. NEVER order a burger at a restaurant and NEVER buy/consume frozen patties.

    Rule #2. ALWAYS ask your butcher to grind the piece of meat of your preference IN FRONT OF YOU, not at the “back.”

  • http://www.onpointradio.org/2009/10/why-is-a-burger-still-unsafe#comments Henry

    Questions for Mr. Moss:

    I wonder if the hamburgers that Miss Smith ate were properly cooked to kill the bacteria in the raw meat. Sounds to me like Mr. Moss said they were frozen solid when they were placed on the grill, and never cooked well enough. Isn’t the issue here more about people handling and cooking raw food properly, and less about where the meat comes from and how it is processed?

    Also, in his article, Mr. Moss reported that a test by The Times “found that the safe handling instructions are not enough to prevent the bacteria from spreading in the kitchen.” I’d like to hear how they determined this.

    Listening for your answers on-line. Thanks!
    Henry

  • http://www.manningave.com Seth

    Why, 103 years after Upton Sinclair’s exposé on poor slaughterhouse practices, The Jungle, has tainted meat and poor quality continued? I feel like stories about E. Coli and other food safety issues roll around regularly every 6 months, but nothing every happens. One would have to live under a rock not to know about slaughterhouses resisting regulation in food safety in order to maximize profits at the expense of their customer’s health. Why do people do nothing? Tell them with your money! Don’t buy their ground beef full of fecal matter, don’t buy their inferior meat coming from overstressed cows growing up in feedlots, and make some noise about food safety.

  • Putney Swope

    On a side note- I work and spend a great deal of time in South America. I would take Uruguayan beef over most US beef any day. Most beef in Uruguay is still free-range and grass fed…

    The US is to my knowledge the only country that feeds it cattle with corn in feed lots. The rest of the world seems to let the cattle graze.

    One of the problems is how the animals are raised and that they can’t digest corn and get sick, which is another issue with the huge amounts antibiotics that these animals are given.

  • SL

    Salmonella and e. coli are present in and on the bodies of animals. How do they get onto peanuts, cantaloupes, spinach and berries?

    Factory farms, of both the animal and vegetable variety, tend to work in the same ecosystem. If a vegetable crop or vegetable processing plant is “downstream” or uses by-products from animal factory farms that are already tainted… it is a vicious cycle.

    Question to Panel: How are resistant strains of e.coli and salmonella (formed in the guts and skins of animals doused in antibiotics) getting on our vegetables?

  • David D

    The whole factory farm get the product to market quick is a big part of the problem. Feeding the cattle anti-biotics creates problem bacteria.
    E coli is caused by feeding the cows grain in the feed lot. If they feed the cows grass or hay for two weeks before slauter there would not be any e coli in the fecal matter.

  • davidk

    I stopped purchasing any meat from the supermarket (from any animal) several years ago. I only buy from two local farms in RI (less than 5 miles from my home). All grass feed, free range animals with no hormones, no antibiotics and definitely no feeding other animals to the livestock. (It was the last century when I last stepped foot into a fast food joint to eat.)

  • http://www.onpointradio.org/2009/10/why-is-a-burger-still-unsafe/comment-page-1#comment-29519 Henry

    Follow-up question for Mr. Moss:

    Just heard about your home-test asserting that label instructions aren’t enough to prevent the spread of bacteria.

    From what you said, it sounds like your clean-up method was the problem. Doesn’t your home-test just show again that consumers don’t know how to handle and cook raw meat properly? And why doesn’t this mean that ground beef processing is a secondary issue? Please explain your reasons.

    Thanks again,
    Henry

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter

    How safe should our food supply be? We have to face the fact that even buying food from the farm next door will never be 100%. We endure 40,000 deaths a year on our highways, what’s our death rate from tainted food?

  • David White

    The dangerous form of e.coli is rampant in feedlot cattle but not in grassfed cattle. What would you conclude from that?

  • Jason

    This is why I went Vegetarian!

  • Susan Els

    My son has been buying ground buffalo from at an organic grocery. How would this compare to ground beef?

  • Sabina

    My husband and I either buy our ground meats from local farmers (even in the center of Boston, the farms are only about 1/2 hour away), or grind our own meat from grass fed animals.

    This problem is less about the pre-ground meat itself than about factory farms. With CSAs and farmers markets, getting fresh food is easy to do and good for everyone involved.

  • millard-fillmore

    When we go to a car dealer to buy a car, we don’t say “Give me the cheapest and least safe car you have.”

    When we go to a pub, we order the best beer, not the cheapest one.

    When we buy a computer, we want one that is of high quality, not the cheapest and the low-quality one, and do not hesitate to plonk down couple of hundred dollars extra for more RAM or higher CPU speed.

    When we buy shoes, again, we ask many questions and want the best quality shoe, not the cheapest.

    But, when it comes to food – which is so essential to our nourishment – we, as a society, exhibit the exact opposite attitude and refuse to pay premium price for better quality.

    Unless that attitude changes, we will continue to have such problems with food. Lack of a culture in America and it being a (relatively) new country is another factor in why Americans have such a dysfunctional relationship with food – or what passes for it in our society. Other cultures, like Japanese, Chinese, Greek, Middle-East, Indian, Thai etc. have a much longer history with their cultures rooted in a place, and they have got their food right for the most part.

    It takes a lot to mess up something as basic as food, which has been with us since the dawn of civilization. Only in America…..

  • Greg

    I think this story ties in with Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff.” The point of that presentation is that the price of most of the crap we buy does not reflect its true cost… in lives, environmental damage and other reckonings.

    http://www.storyofstuff.com

  • Karla Rizzo

    We used to go to the meat market, pick a piece of meat and asked the butcher to grind it right there. Or, as some here have already suggested, grind it ourselves at home. Not as convenient? At least in the day we always knew exactly what was in our burgers, and most of the time where our meat originated from. Know where your food comes from–local, fresh, properly pastured and butchered animals. Go to the farmers markets and talk to the producers of your locally raised foods. Know how to properly prepare and cook all foods to safe standards. Consult the old cookbooks, if in doubt. In my opinion, meat-centric eating is not the issue here, since food-illness also can arrive on plant products grown in today’s huge agribusiness systems. Also, on a lot of packaging these days, you can find the source of the food inside the package. Read it and be amazed.

  • Istvan

    I look forward to an America which will not be afraid to know what food should taste
    like (paraphrasing JFK,on the fear of the Brave and Free of Grace and Beauty).
    Most of what supermarkets sell is the advertised junk.
    “Why is a Burger Still Unsafe ?” Because it’s the profit that counts.And discussions will
    stay discussions.Until the ruling class gets sick,of course.
    But again,the best made bombs in the world are available to anyone here,who cares
    to have a go at it.
    Bon appetit.

  • http://www.iamdark.com Jeanette Michelle

    I did not get the chance to make my comment earlier, but I’m a vegetarian and I do believe that anyone can become sick with Samonella or E. Coli if they’re not clean with the produce and or meat that is handled. This is going to bring people back to growing their own vegetables and raising their own meat in the yard.

  • Rachel

    Thanks for throwing a bone to vegetarians.

  • Josh

    Do please point out that the CPSI report covered FDA regulated foods only and not USDA. The rate of illness from USDA approved beef is far and above anything that the FDA looks out for.

  • http://thegeminiweb.com RB

    It’s true, cows are grass eaters, not corn eaters! If you eat meat, try to buy it from a small, local grass-feeding farm. You can check out http://eatwild.com/ for farms in the area.

  • Brett

    We need to fully trust the free markets of the corporate food supply industries! If they weren’t FORCED to devote energies to periodic governmental inspections they could use those resources for technological innovations to further protect our food supplies and make them safer! We have USDA inspections now, and look where that’s gotten us! Keep the government’s hands off my food!! If there is more government inspection then the cost of food will spiral out of control! AYAND…not buying meat from around the world? What other kinds of whacky protectionist ideas can you come up with? You’ll be crying while eating your local meats when the communists come and herd you down a hole!! So what if a few people get sick?!? More people are safe than not! Life is full of risks! If you drive a car, you might get injured or killed in an accident! Should we all stop driving because of that? Stay hunkered under the covers while the government supports us? If you get sick, just don’t buy meat from that store again; that’ll bring changes! And if you’re going to whine about safety of our food supplies and still purchase food, you’re a hypocrite–technically speaking! (This is what a Conservative/neo-Libertarian/food-industry, corporate head would say if given truth serum…based on an idea from Donald Baxter, and others…I will say, the armchair, free-market “experts” and homespun socio-political “philosophers” can at least claim ignorance; the industry execs. can not!)
    —————————————————————
    First; what a sad, sad story of Ms. Smith’s. I wish her a full recovery and hope she will dance again…

    I don’t eat red meat. I only eat chicken about twice a month and fish once a month. The chicken comes from truly free-range, hormone and antibiotic-free poultry a small, local farm raises. It only has about a hundred birds on the farm at a time. My fish is caught by local fisherman in the wild. I won’t eat fish from a fish farm, and I won’t eat large fish, like tuna. (I will not personally support the meat-packing industry.) I get organic eggs, organic yogurt and organic cheeses from a very small, local farm that has about thirty laying hens and six goats. I get most of my vegetables from a CSA; the rest come from local, organic vegetable farms who sell at our farmer’s market. I feel fortunate to know many of the farmers personally; I know many can not get that close to their food sources, though. My food tastes great and is only slightly more expensive, and I feel virtually no pangs of being in sacrifice mode.

    I wash my fruits and vegetables thoroughly, use two different cutting boards: one for meat, one for produce. I also cook my meats and eggs properly. Keeping kitchen surfaces and utensils clean is also crucial. I am not completely safe, though. There is always a slight risk with any food. (Hardly a reason for the food industry to use this as an excuse, however!)

    If one wants to eat red meat in the ground form, choose your own whole cuts and grind them yourself at home. As was stated on the show, problem bacteria are less likely to be present on whole cuts of red meat.

    I was amazed to hear on the show that inspection only takes place in spot checks, only after meat is ground, and not on the individual scraps that come in to the processing plants!?!?! Slicing and dicing loans from different lenders and re-packaging them in bits to resell to other lenders didn’t work very well for the financial industry, doing so with meat doesn’t seem like a good idea for the meat packing industry!!! I do believe the USDA could do a better job of getting industry to not only tow the line but step up its inspection efforts, as well as improve its protocol for conditions of operation. And, how many politicians are funded by the food industry lobby? Hmm?

    Thanks, On Point, for having this show and helping to keep this issue in the spotlight.
    (That photo of a cross-sectioned burger reveals it’s improperly cooked!)

  • Montarro

    I plan on enjoying some hamburger tonight. Thank you to America’s cattle ranchers, USDA inspectors, butchers, and long haul truckers. You are not given enough credit for the valuable service you provide to millions of hungry people in this country and around the world.

  • Putney Swope

    Brett the damage is permanent and she will not recover.

    Are people aware that the whole meat and mass produced vegetable industry in this country is designed for the fast food giants such as McDonald’s and Burger King.

    They are the ones who lobbied for the meat industry to move towards the feed lot model.

  • Brett

    That’s absolutely true, Putney! McDonald’s is the world’s largest purchaser of potatoes. They dictate to the growers which potato variety is grown, and Monsanto is right there dictating HOW the growers are going to grow their crop. AND McDonald’s demands they grow only ONE variety…It sets up a situation very much like what caused the Irish potato famine, except now the good ole’ chemical companies will cause a much larger environmental problem.

  • Sydney

    I want to thank Mr. Moss for his thorough investigation of this issue, and also thank the show for covering the story in such a thorough way. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Smith should be commended for talking straight about the meat industry and honestly answering consumer’s concerns.

    This is the power of real journalism.

  • MsMyTPen

    It’s unfortunate that there are also outbreaks in the vegetables and fruits as well. The Chicago Tribune has an article today. If we could afford less processed foods from fish to fruit, it would be better for all our health! I’m definitely going to pass this onto my mom who is a burger lover…and she likes her beef rare.

  • BAS

    A well worthwhile discussion based on a really important investigation by Mr Moss. So big thanks to On Point for lifting the rug to take a look underneath – at the makeup of standard food / meat products. More light on this subject clearly necessary.

    This hazardous adaptation driven by market forces is revealed as profoundly disconnected from Health (capital H).

  • Kash Hoffa

    amen to this -> http://www.storyofstuff.com

    Down with monoculture and industrialization of nature!

  • 75gitane

    read The Knowland Retribution by Richard Greener

    a fiction work about a man who seeks revenge on a company that sent out e.coli tainted meat. that company, named knowland, did the math and decided the cost of a recall was greater than the lawsuits which could result from the death/illness of customers.

  • Rob L.

    Very interesting and useful show! Kudos to Tom Ashbrook and his team.

  • Jeri H.

    As I listened to this broadcast, I felt I should respond to the idea of consumer responsibility. I choose to buy locally from the farmer and do not want irradiation to be
    forced on all producers just because giant producers are irresponsible. The food safety people in our state will not allow us as consumers to purchase raw milk, if it is our choice, so I have to go to another state to do so.
    Sometimes food safety laws go to far.

  • http://www.tassajarameats.com Mark Shelley

    I don’t want to be crassly commercial, but we are providing our community with locally raised beef. I know the animals and every step of the process for that animal from pasture to the plate. Our meat is healthier and it is better for the planet. All beef in this country starts out on a local “cow/calf” ranch before it is shipped off someplace, fed on subsidized grains in industrialized conditions, then assembled into packages destined for some store or restaurant. It doesn’t have to be that way.

  • http://www.kolfoods.com Devora Kimelman-Block

    A major (if not THE major) cause of E.coli is that the cattle are on a grain (corn) based diet. Feedlot grain makes the animals more acidic, which in turn makes the E. coli more acid-resistant so that the acids in our stomachs can’t combat the E.coli bacteria. If you want to have safer meat, you need to eat grassfed meat. I write a blog about this (www.kolfoods.blogspot.com) and started a kosher, grass-fed meat business (www.kolfoods.com).

    Here is a study by Cornell University about this very issue:

    Russell, J. B., F. Diez-Gonzalez, and G. N. Jarvis. “Potential Effect of Cattle Diets on the Transmission of Pathogenic Escherichia Coli to Humans” Microbes Infect 2, no. 1 (2000): 45-53.

  • Brett

    Jeri H.,
    I whole-heartily agree that consumers need to be responsible, informed, and have a right to choice. I love unpasteurized milk, and it contains many beneficial bacteria, which are eradicated when the pasteurization process is performed. Flash pasteurization (which pasteurizes at very high temps very quickly to kill most bacteria, even the beneficial ones) is the biggest problem. The slower process, which heats the milk to lower temps is preferable, although it still kills some of the beneficial bacteria.

    The problem you have briefly described can be attributed to the agribusiness lobby’s deep pockets. The dairy council is used to prevent small producers who do not wish to participate in industry “standards” to operate at all. They use their “influence” to make regulation in certain situations to quash their competition and to prevent regulation in certain situations that stand in their way of profits. Under regulated meat production and inspection would be an example of the latter; preventing people from purchasing unpasteurized milk may be an example of the former.

    Milk can be tested to determine bacteria levels of salmonella, E. coli and Listeria (too name a few), and it can be produced hygienically. So, if properly produced and tested, unpasteurized milk can be safe. Dairy farms would have to follow very strict standards to prevent the spread of diseases (typhoid and tuberculosis are just a couple). In half the states, raw milk can be sold legally.

    The question becomes: how should the monitoring of food safety be handled? I believe the answer is a combination of consumer responsibility, industry responsibility and government oversight. The devil is in the details!

  • http://www.hope-connection.com Mike Ryan

    Stephanie Smith should ABSOLUTELY find a hyperbaric oxygen therapy facility in Minnesota and start 40 treatments. I can guarantee she will improve her neurological situation, and it would be a shame if she didn’t try HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) – she should have been told to do this by her doctor. I work at a hyperbaric oxygen center outside of Boston.

    Mike Ryan
    http://www.HOPE-Connection.com
    North Reading, MA

  • morton coddington

    You know, if they were to just irradiate all meat, no-one would get sick.

    When the poor victim said she wished those responsible were in jail, I don’t think she knew exactly who is responsible for preventing our food from being safely disinfected via irradiation.

  • Giacoma

    How do I download your program so I can listen to it on my IPOD? I don’t see the point on your site where I can do that.
    Thank you

  • Carol

    Thanks Tom Ashbrook for bring this topic to listeners. I am so glad that we haven’t eaten meat in years and recently stopped eating fish and poultry. Our family has seen such a health improvement. And now we are learning to eat RAW! On that note, however, with scares of leafy greens and peanuts contamination, I do wonder about the safe of my food source. It would be nice to hear a program for vegetarians and maybe a show about need for local food sources.

  • Arthur Taylor

    Thank you Tom Ashbrook and NPR. I don’t believe that we would have heard this on a commercial radio or TV. As the old saying goes, it’s all about money and the usual bloated bonuses and greed that the senior management of Cargill receives. It’s no secret that Cargill has done its share of global destruction in the rain forests and rivers around the world. It’s time we take back our food production, like everything else that has been destroyed in the interest of corporate greed.
    I looked on “Glassdoor.com” and found this opinion of Jody Horner, President of Cargill Case Ready Beef written by her employees; “Cargill out of touch with reality, poor compensation, poor work place culture, poor ethics”

  • blue turtle

    At the heart of the issue is the fact that we’ve got yet another “too big to fail” system in place, where a few big companies are in control of things. The huge megacorps (Cargill, Tyson) have too much power and are not held accountable. They can’t or “won’t” check the meat they sell to the public. They treat living animals as a “commodity” placed in absolutely awful and unnatural conditions that make any normal person cringe. The system encourages livestock disease and antibiotic-resistance by it’s very design. I would question the legitimacy of the CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) system at the ground level. Break up these huge Megacorps to a size in which they can be held accountable for safe and humane operating conditions, and make the rules MANDATORY.

    The very idea that this system can be called the “Status quo” is repugnant to me and should be to anyone with even the most basic sense of decency. How in the hell have we let this go on for so long?

    The only answer is for people of conscience to create a demand for free range, grass-fed (pastured) beef from small-scale local producers. Take away your support for the CAFO system now and bring it elsewhere (or don’t eat meat at all). With the local vendor comes a local community perspective and a sense of ethics beyond mere profit. This is the future, we CAN make it so.

  • JBD

    The problem with irradiation is that it would work amazingly to the point that you can grind the whole cow and make beef patties! The problem is that it will get to that if let unchecked as long as the color and taste is right!

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Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

Deadly clashes in Eastern Ukraine. A white supremacist rocks Kansas City. The Marathon bombing anniversary. And Bloomberg on guns. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Apr 18, 2014
This undated photo provided by NASA on April 2, 2014 shows Saturn's moon Enceladus. The "tiger stripes" are long fractures from which water vapor jets are emitted. Scientists have uncovered a vast ocean beneath the icy surface of the moon, they announced Thursday, April 3, 2014. Italian and American researchers made the discovery using Cassini, a NASA-European spacecraft still exploring Saturn and its rings 17 years after its launch from Cape Canaveral. (AP)

Oceans in Space. The new discovery on a moon of Saturn, and the possibility of life there.

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Apr 18, 2014
This undated photo provided by NASA on April 2, 2014 shows Saturn's moon Enceladus. The "tiger stripes" are long fractures from which water vapor jets are emitted. Scientists have uncovered a vast ocean beneath the icy surface of the moon, they announced Thursday, April 3, 2014. Italian and American researchers made the discovery using Cassini, a NASA-European spacecraft still exploring Saturn and its rings 17 years after its launch from Cape Canaveral. (AP)

Oceans in Space. The new discovery on a moon of Saturn, and the possibility of life there.

 
Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

Deadly clashes in Eastern Ukraine. A white supremacist rocks Kansas City. The Marathon bombing anniversary. And Bloomberg on guns. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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