All year, we have reported on the dangers of purchasing commercial ground beef. More than 70,000 Americans are sickened each year by E. Coli infections, and most are caused by contaminated hamburger. The latest E. coli outbreak linked to ground beef has killed two people — one from New Hampshire and another from upstate New York — and sickened about two dozen in 11 states. The chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee wants an investigation into the risk of deadly E. coli getting into school lunches.
Since 2006, ground beef has been linked to scores of alerts and recalls, and last summer contamination led to the recall of beef from nearly 3,000 grocers in 41 states. Stephanie Smith, a 22 year-old dance instructor was left paralyzed from the waist down by E. coli Minnesota officials traced to hamburger her mother had grilled for their Sunday dinner in early fall 2007. Last May, a 7-year-old Cleveland girl died from E. Coli linked to a cluster of E. coli infections traced to Valley Meats LLC of Coal Valley, Illinois, where the USDA recalled approximately 95,898 pounds of contaminated ground beef. There have been 16 outbreaks of E. Coli 0157 since 2007.
Michael Moss of the New York Times traced back the origins of the hamburger that left Stephanie Smith paralyzed, and discovered it to be a very typical hamburger that`s manufactured in the U.S. today. “I was under the impression before that hamburger is a piece of meat that`s ground up,” he told Charlie Rose on a recent broadcast.
“But in fact what it is typically,” said Moss, “is a sort of an amalgam of trimmings from pieces of made that are cut in the slaughterhouse and thrown into the huge bins and then send to the grinding factory. And these trimmings in this case came from Uruguay, a slaughterhouse in Texas that specializes in old dairy cows and bulls that can`t be sent to the feed lot for feeding. The largest share of them came from a plant in Omaha, and these trimmings are called 50-50. They`re 50 percent fat, 50 percent lean.”
Here is a piece on What Stephanie Smith went through with her E.Coli ordeal.
So how many cows goes into that burger?
Every time you eat store-bought hamburger, you’re eating the meat from hundreds of different cows from several different countries. And since the meat from all these animals is not being tested, whenever there’s an E. coli outbreak it’s impossible to trace. Don’t expect the industry to conduct tests, because the USDA allows them to police themselves and none of these companies want to be liable. The USDA allows huge meat companies like Cargill to rely on their suppliers to check for meat contamination, and the suppliers only conduct their alleged “inspections”after the meat is ground; there’s no federal requirement for grinders to test their ingredients for pathogens. Additionally, since the USDA does not have the authority to recall meat, every meat recall is essentially voluntary.
Commercially raised cattle are all grain-fed on an unnatural diet of corn before slaughter. The grain cattle are fed abnormally alters the ratios of essential fatty acids. If you eat commercially raised beef, your own body’s ratio of omega-6:omega-3 will diminish. Commercial beef are fed grain for several reasons: grain is cheap; animals grow faster, and antibiotics can easily be added to grain. In contrast, a cow’s natural diet is grass. In fact, Michael Pollan points out that historically, grass-fed animals didn’t contract E. coli, and if they’re diet is changed back to grass, cows would inherently dispose of most of the E. Coli pathogens.
According to a recent 2002 study (published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition), livestock fed on grain (as compared to wild animals or grass-fed livestock) have less omega-3 fat, which is beneficial for cardiac health, and more omega-6 fat in their tissues, which may promote heart disease.
Cattle are fed a toxic mixture of various hormones to facilitate rapid growth, including estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, trenbolone acetate, and melengesterol acetate. “Some researchers warn that human consumption of estrogen from hormone-drugged beef can result in cancer, premature puberty and falling sperm counts.”
Animals constitute over 50% of all antibiotic use in the U. S. About 9 million pounds of antibiotic feed additives are used annually in the cattle raising process. Animals raised in natural farm environments rarely require antibiotics.”
Much commercial beef is now being irradiated to kill bacteria. Radiation causes radiolytic by-products in foods that are carcinogenic.
As Michel Pollan puts it: “To be a little more vivid perhaps than you want to be, what`s happening is manure is getting into the meat. And the reason the manure is getting into the meat is because the lines on these slaughterhouses are so fast — they may be slaughtering 400 animals in an hour. It`s very hard to be clean when you`re doing it that fast. So the manure gets into the meat, and then the techno fix — and even though it might work and give us more security — is essentially to sterilize that manure. I would hope we could do better than eating sterilized poop”.
What is a carnivore to do? Are we to give up juicy delicious hamburgers…Not necessarily. Instead of taking the risk, why not make them at home yourself. Start by getting yourself a home grinder. These babies work wonders and if you get a multitasker like the Kitchen Aid Mixer it will be worth the investment. Make friends with your local butcher. Find out what farms the beef is coming from. Your burgers will be better than anything you can buy at the store. Here are some tips on making the perfect burger at home:
Buy three types of beef: About 30% Chuck (for the body) and the rest should be Sirloin (for more flavor).While you are at it, but Prime meat, it will be worth it.
Sear your burger: Make sure to sear your burger on an iron skillet before cooking it, this will keep in all the juices and flavors. Once you have done this you can finish them in the oven or in the grill.
Need a little inspiration? Check out our delicious collection of Burger recipes.