Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Herd About It?

by Ana Grarian

The American Meat Institute (AMI) is urging the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to move forward with the rule making process regarding its petition to allow electron beam irradiation (e-beam) to be applied to the surface of beef carcasses as a processing aid, and that the agency treat this process no differently than it treats any other processing aid, AMI Executive Vice President James Hodges noted, adding that AMI has provided the necessary research and rationale to support our request.

The Humane Society of the United States and a coalition of environmental and public health organizations filed a legal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to regulate air pollution from factory farms. The 69-page petition provides detailed scientific and legal information about the significant emissions of methane and nitrous oxide two greenhouse gases as well as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from factory farms, and how all of these pollutants have been shown to have negative effects on human health and welfare, including adverse effects on climate and the environment in the United States.

I was struck by these two articles in the October 2009 Animal Ag E-letter by the Illinois Farm Bureau.

The American Meat Institute wants to irradiate our meat to make it safer? Really? Wow. I really want my meat to be safe without irradiation. I don’t think I can actually conceive of the idea that irradiated meat is safe. Safe from what? Improper handling of livestock coming into slaughter houses? Improper handling of carcasses and meat products going through the slaughter house? Livestock with guts containing high levels of antibiotic resistant e-coli due to crowded feedlot pens, insufficient manure handling, low level feeding of antibiotics, the feeding of animal and slaughter house waste back to livestock? Is there some way that our meat could be safe without irradiation? Like maybe correcting the above practices?

Could correcting the conveyor belt/assembly line processes of raising livestock, milking cows and processing food also correct the problems of air pollution from factory farms? To quote a real(?)maverick – “you betcha’!”. And in all fairness to the farm immortalized in her ill back dropped speech – that wasn’t the kind of high volume slaughter house I’m talking about. Somehow I don’t think the guy who is putting turkeys into that decapitator one by one has a compatriot in another shed irradiating holiday poultry.
From what I could determine by a web search the farm in question (Triple D) is an organic poultry farm producing less than 400 turkeys and having about the same number of laying hens. Though they do produce thousands of meat birds and chicks. Now I can’t vouch for their handling or feeding practices as I have never been there but they sure don’t seem to be a ConAgra kind of operation.

(And isn’t that a weird statement in itself? ConAgra / con-agra / against-agriculture?/ against-agrarianism?)

What’s interesting is that it seems Triple D’s smaller operations in eggs and turkeys are what is keeping them afloat financially. You can check Triple D out on their website

All in all I’d rather eat less meat, pay a little more for it and not have it irradiated or washed with ammonia.

And speaking of ammonia. There’s an old county saying “Smell that fresh country air! Just don’t step in it!”. Yep, raising livestock means manure and manure smells. It’s the ammonia and other volatile chemicals in manure and urine that we find offensive. Perhaps because at high concentrations they can cause effects such as eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, nausea, sore throat, diarrhea, heart palpitations, drowsiness and mood alterations (Minnesota Dept. of Health 2001)

The thing is, just like using ammonia to clean your bathroom, it’s the concentrations that count. Stepping into a closed shower stall with an open bottle of household ammonia might get you woozy or worse. Using a solution in a room with an open door provides adequate ventilation. CAFO’s running thousands of cattle on very small acreage can produce enough noxious gasses to create the above symptoms in neighbors several miles away. Add to that the fact that the air also contains significant numbers of antibiotic resistant bacteria into those irritated eye, nosal and throat passages.

Keep it clean folks. From the farm to the table. Oh – if you haven’t watched FOOD Inc. yet – it is now available on Netflix.

By AFarmer

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Ken Carman
14 years ago

From what I understand and what I have read, irradiating meat is safe. Of course how many times have we found out afterwards “that’s no quite true?” I don’t really have a problem with it, though it’s a temp. fix. That doesn’t stop contamination afterwards. The problem here, as I think you are saying, is that we do everything but what we should be doing: make sure the processing is proper and doesn’t cause all this. Cheap processing isn’t the worth the price we have to pay. Assembly lines and sloppy practices may help those who invest and manage mega farms and plants; getting meat from foriegn sources may lower the price, but it all increases the death and sickness rate for the big corporate good.

Just another example of “to hell with the worker, to hell with the public, being in bed with each other so we can get off through the stroke, stroke, stroke of lax reg is more important…” Oh, and the money they slip in the pol’s pockets needed next election time.

If we consider prostitution a horrible sin, why do we allow it in politics?

RS Janes
14 years ago

Ana, you wrote: “All in all I’d rather eat less meat, pay a little more for it and not have it irradiated or washed with ammonia.”

I agree. I’ve read some of the pros and cons on irradiating meat and I think we should err on the side of caution. Ammonia can act as a sterilizing agent, but who wants it on their meat? I’m sure if it were on the package label “Washed in Ammonia” few people would buy it.

I once worked in a place where I had to pull large dumpsters off of a trash compactor in a small confined space, and the dumpster lids couldn’t be closed until they were outside. Since it was a high-rise building for seniors, the compactor contained colostomy bags and medical waste. I can’t adequately describe the horrible smell when those bags popped open in the trash compactor, but I frequently had pounding headaches after pulling the dumpster and experienced flu-like symptoms on a regular basis. I can imagine what animal waste smells like on a factory farm, and what effects it might have on those who breathe it.

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