ThePoliticalCat

A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Consumer Alert - Food Contamination


Cargill Meat Solutions - what the hell is a meat solution, anyway? - is recalling "ground beef products" for possible E. coli contamination. Affected "products"
include ground beef, beef patties, beef sirloin patties, coarse ground beef for chili and meat loaf mix including beef, pork and veal, distributed under the names Century Farm, Giants, Wegmans, Weis Premium Meats and Price Rite.
Use-by dates range from mid-October through today. If you have any of these products in your fridge or freezer, return them to the place of purchase for a refund. Call Cargill’s hotline at 877-455-1034 for more information.

These people - the meat packers and slaughterhouses and other providers of fine dead animals - really need to clean up their act. Not to mention finding some better creative consultants/copywriters/marketing schlubs.

What is causing this epidemic of contaminated food? We know that the contaminated toys are flooding our markets because Bush appointee Nancy Nord over at the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has been spending her time resisting expansion of her agency, additional funds for investigation, and new hires to enforce rules, preferring instead to go on $60,000 worth of industry-paid junkets and cozy up to manufacturers. Hard to enforce the law on people that are paying for your nice vacations, huh, Nance?

Impressive that Dick Cheney who got his big ol' tighty-whities in such a humongous wad over Joe Wilson's travel-expenses-only trip to Niger has made nary a peep over Nancy's fun holidays all-expenses paid.

What say, Crazy Uncle Dick? Aren't Nancy's trips "junkets," as you eloquently describe it?

That aside, we need to increase food safety inspections, and the way we handle food. The USDA is responsible for inspecting and certifying the safety of meat and poultry in our food chain. The FDA is responsible for inspecting and certifying the safety of all other food products in the chain. According to this NYT article, 85 per cent of food poisoning cases are attributable to FDA-inspected items. The FDA is underfunded and understaffed and incapable of managing its workload.

To protect yourself from the dangers of contaminated food, try to buy locally. Your local butcher can grind meat for you, if you need it ground, rather than paying more to buy meat that has been ground, packaged, and then traveled long distances under who-knows-what conditions. Or you can grind it yourself. Invest in a sturdy meat grinder. It comes with various attachments that let you grind any kind of meat (some will even do bones) in various textures, for different dishes.

Wash meat and poultry in cool running water before using. Wash produce in a mild bleach solution, rinsing thoroughly before using. Follow basic food preparation precautions - use separate cutting boards for vegetables and poultry/meat, preferably made of something that you can scrub down with bleach. Scrub food preparation surfaces with a bleach solution (including ovens, countertops, stove tops, pots, pans, knives, and other utensils). Some cooks recommend drying wooden cutting boards in sunlight, which kills germs. That's fine, as long as you scrub them down thoroughly after using them, preferably with bleach.

Buy local, from producers you know or at least who are known in the community. Agribusiness conglomerates need to be cut off at the knees. They create "meat solutions" and "meat products," not food. You needn't cook your food to death, but you should cook it to a sufficient degree to kill any pathogens. If you're cooking meat and vegetables, prep the vegetables first after washing them thoroughly, and wash all prep utensils before prepping the meat/poultry.

Above all, as far as possible avoid packaged "food products." You don't know what's in them, but it's a fairly safe bet that whatever you cook for yourself is going to be much healthier and safer, because you care about what goes into your face. The company that makes the "food product" cares only about what comes out of your pocket and into theirs.

Geesh, I'm just so outraged about this. Does it show?

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