Jun 8 2008

Nebraska Beef makes you sick? Blame church ladies!

Here’s a good one. The ever vigilant Andrew Martin, a business reporter for the New York Times, writes that a meat-packing company, Nebraska Beef, is suing the Salem Lutheran Church in Longville, Minnesota, because the church ladies didn’t cook its meat well enough. It’s their fault 17 people at a church social got sick and one died. Never mind that that the same toxic strain of E. coli that made people sick could be traced to the Nebraska Beef slaughterhouse. Moral: it’s your own stupid fault if you don’t cook tainted meat long enough to sterilize it. Silly me: why do I keep thinking that meat should be safe before it gets to you? Let’s hope the courts hold Nebraska Beef plenty accountable for this incident.

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  • http://epicureanideal.blogspot.com/ Ashley

    Eat close to home. Know your farmer.

  • http://communetestedcityapproved.blogspot.com/ Commune Tested, City Approved

    Talk about buyer beware!!!

  • naomi

    It’s crazy how we just accept the industry’s request that we treat all factory-farmed meat as biohazard. People should be up in arms!

  • http://www.downtoearthblog.com Sara DowntoEarth

    I am a local foodie and raise beef for our farmer’s markets. Food safety is one of the reasons I have customers. Still, my beef can easily contain e-coli (and even the 0157 strain), because it is present in most environments to some degeree.

    In fairness to our mass-production, we still need to take responsibility for our own food safety. Two reasons we have more problem with ground beef now are 1) beef is often ground before it hits the grocery store, giving the organisms time to spread through the product and 2) the grind is a mix of several or many animals, increasing the chance for contamination.

    Local meat is neither. You can get many of the same benefits by finding a grocery that grinds its own, fresh and from single or few animals.

  • Less meat, thanks

    factory farmed = biohazard, but why?
    Naomi has a great point. Why are slaughterhouses allowed to pass dangerous meat to consumers? There are other options. According to Michael Pollan author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, if the ranchers would finish the cattle on grass for the last 2 weeks, then it would be very difficult for E. coli 057:H7 to grow in the digestive tract of the cow. Without E coli present (or much less frequently) or without the manure being on or in the meat, which is what carries the E. Coli, the meat would not be such a biohazard. Grass feed or even grass finish might would cost the industry a bit more, but this could be enforced. When will the USDA set more appropriate regulations like this to prevent such tragedies?

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  • http://www.downtoearthblog.com Sara DowntoEarth

    This post prompted me to post on our blog. With regard to when will the USDA set regulations–the cost increase to the consumer for requiring grass-finishing would be significant. I believe in local and pasture-raised, but also think affordable food is important for a huge portion of our population.

    One of the biggests additional costs to grass-raising or finishing is the cost of the land. As long as we have to pay development-priced mortgages and taxes, ranchers are discouraged from keeping their cattle on the land longer.