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If they don't wanna cooperate, there's just nothin' we can do
March 14, 2003 8:25 AM   Subscribe

"U.S. consumers would not benefit from knowing which grocery stores, restaurants and butchers stocked meat products potentially contaminated with deadly bacteria" sez the USDA. What am I missing here? Yes, I know, protein, but is it really just me? [more inside]
posted by soyjoy (20 comments total)

 
Naming the stores and restaurants that were selling tainted meat wouldn't work "because companies send meat to places other than grocery stores and restaurants." No, wait, here's a better reason: meat companies "would not be as cooperative if they were forced to share information." Uh huh. Well, that makes sense. Mustn't upset those meat companies! Meanwhile, in the latest recall, store chains are named, but only after three kids are hospitalized with E.coli.
posted by soyjoy at 8:27 AM on March 14, 2003


USDA's Undersecretary Elsa Murano said the department has the legal authority to require meat plants to publicize this information. ... Murano said USDA does not use this authority due to potential delays caused by legal wrangling. ... Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat, offered to introduce legislation to allow USDA to avoid long legal court battles. But Murano said the administration would oppose any such legislation.

So they won't exercise their authority because of the legal hassles, but they don't want to avoid the legal hassles. Brilliant. If you can manage to ignore the hypocrisy, their asses are perfectly covered.
posted by RylandDotNet at 8:46 AM on March 14, 2003


MeatFilter. Ah this article is just one more in long line of injustices played upon the American Meat Eating Public. Incendiary? Hardly. For an entertaining and thought provoking read try "Fast Food Nation".
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 8:51 AM on March 14, 2003


On this, I'm with Oprah ... and BrodieShadeTree (never been to McDonalds or any other fast food chain again after I put the book down).
posted by magullo at 9:04 AM on March 14, 2003


"Even if just one consumer changed their behavior and one person was kept from getting sick that would justify this policy," said Carol Tucker Foreman, food policy director for the Consumer Federation of America.

Waitasec. I've heard this before. It's been used as justification for all sorts of stuff:

"If it would only prevent one child abduction, the entire United States should have an amber alert."

"If it would only prevent one injury due to marijuana intoxication, then the entire country should keep marijuana illegal."

"If it would save the life of only one unborn child, then abortion should be outlawed."

"If it would only prevent one American being killed by a terrorist, then we should go to war with Iraq."

Think twice. Act later.
posted by kablam at 9:19 AM on March 14, 2003


Look, I'm no fan of the administration's relationships with big business, but it's not as though contaminated meat is being delivered directly into the mouths of an ignorant public:

"When the USDA announces a food recall, consumers are told where and when the meat was produced, what states they were distributed to and specific identification numbers on all affected products."

As long as the meat is properly marked, wouldn't this be enough to avoid any recalled meat? Or am I missing something?
posted by hilatron at 9:46 AM on March 14, 2003


it's not as though contaminated meat is being delivered directly into the mouths of an ignorant public

Not sure whether this is supposed to indicate culpability on the part of the public (we didn't force feed them, they bought the meat themselves) or to suggest there's no link between this kind of favoritism/foot-dragging and people getting sick and dying from tainted meat. Frankly, either suggestion seems a little dubious to me.
posted by soyjoy at 9:55 AM on March 14, 2003


kablam:
"If it would save the life of only one unborn child, then abortion should be outlawed."

I don't follow this at all. Tell me you haven't heard this argument.
posted by ODiV at 10:29 AM on March 14, 2003


Doesn't really matter. If a slaughterhouse is found guilty by the USDA of distributing bad meat they can apparently get a temp restraining order overturned pretty quick.
posted by infowar at 10:34 AM on March 14, 2003


Given the fact that the current "inspection" system has been pretty much gutted "to save money", I'm very glad my kids are vegetarians.

Just another example of this administration giving big business interests carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want to do regardless of the possible consequences to the citizenry.
posted by Windopaene at 11:06 AM on March 14, 2003


An interesting interview from Frontline.

Even if just one consumer changed their behavior and one person was kept from getting sick that would justify this policy

Riiiiight. I see a $0.35 tax on every package coming soon so that each piece of meat can be tested at the check-out counter. All citizens will be required to have an in-home retest just minutes before and after cooking the meat.

Here's some more facts. The Bush administration has proposed record level spending for the USDA and E. coli infection is down 21% since 2000. Seems to me that if he was trying to help "big business" he'd want to spend less on a government oversight agency. As for the E. coli scares, more facts: Cooking meat completely at high temperatures will kill the bacteria, but fatal E. coli O157:H7 also has been acquired through unpasteurized juice and tainted salad bars. (pbs) Yes, you can get it from tained fruit and veggies if they contact contaminated water or meat. Salmonella? It causes 500 deaths per year in America. We'd better outlaw chicken! (and cars, at nearly 500 deaths in the US every four days).

I guess my point is that after doing some research on my own I realize that we can always make things better, but the facts show that things continue to improve and in the big picture, tainted meat is fairly low on the list of things to be concerned about. I continue to fail to see any connection between increased problems and so-called "big business" interests.
posted by stormy at 11:08 AM on March 14, 2003


Perhaps someone can tell me why in Ethiopia, raw beef is a commonly served dish, yet in the United States, we have to cook beef until it is like shoe leather. What is the underdeveloped Third World nation of Ethiopia doing right, and what is the "Greatest Nation on Earth" doing wrong?
posted by ilsa at 11:31 AM on March 14, 2003


Oh my dear lord, please disregard the first link! It has nothing to do with this discussion, trust me. Please accept my most humble apologies and return to our regularly scheduled thread.
posted by ilsa at 11:33 AM on March 14, 2003


stormy, first off, your "things continue to improve" stats predate last summer, which saw the second-largest and largest meat recalls ever, both of which involved gross negligence and/or stonewalling on the part of the producers which delayed the public release of life-or-death (and yeah, there were deaths) information.

And dragging in salmonella - which may be killing twice as many people as previously thought - only supports the notion that something needs to be done. Salmonella, listeria, Campylobacter, E.Coli, etc. are all just different ways of saying "feces in the meat." Once the fecal matter has been introduced into the food supply, yes, it can cross-contaminate other kinds of food. I'm not asking "how can we as consumers avoid food poisoning?" but "what is the logic here?"

Since you bring up cars - do you really believe that if a car manufacturer was consistently putting out a product that was endangering lives due to defective production practices, and was blocking the release of this information to the public, that the government's position would be, "well, we don't want to piss them off or anything?" If you do, well, OK, then, maybe it is just me.
posted by soyjoy at 12:21 PM on March 14, 2003


"U.S. consumers would not benefit from knowing which grocery stores, restaurants and butchers stocked meat products potentially contaminated with deadly bacteria"

Good to see the that the Duhbya cabal leaders are "trusting the people" instead of "trusting the government" when it comes to life-or-death decision making issues.

Do we call this informed consent to being screwed when pissing off companies is more important than our lives?
posted by nofundy at 12:45 PM on March 14, 2003


I really shouldn't read MeFi right before dinner...
posted by Space Coyote at 1:28 PM on March 14, 2003


Good to see the that the Duhbya cabal leaders are "trusting the people" instead of "trusting the government" when it comes to life-or-death decision making issues.

~Please tell me more. I never tire of your dogma.~
posted by thirteen at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2003


Raw Sprouts pose a serious e.coli risk many people get sick from sprouts they buy in the store and from salad bars.
posted by stbalbach at 2:52 PM on March 15, 2003


Yeah, it's too bad the E.coli generated from those raw sprouts keeps contaminating our nation's meat supply. Thanks for putting everything in perspective.
posted by soyjoy at 10:14 AM on March 16, 2003


So, um...

is it really just me?
posted by soyjoy at 7:22 AM on March 20, 2003


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