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Mar 5, 2011 06:19 AM

Ground Beef Safe? [split from L.A. board]

What did fast food nation say about ground beef that has you worried?

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  1. I'm guessing that the OP is referring to the high degree of agribusiness influence on the meat industry. Ground meat has been one of the standard food items to be frequently recalled on a regional or even national level for contamination issues.

    One of the major contributors to the contamination problems has been the fact that it is done on such a large scale. The parts of hundreds or even thousands of animals are ground continuously in the process, so one "unit" of ground meat ends up being made up of tissue from multiple "sources."

    The number of govt meat inspectors is believed to be far too small to effectively police and inspect the number of meat packing and processing locations in the US. Furthermore, there have been claims that a number of these inspectors are on the take to look the other way. Subsequently, animals that aren't fit for consumption can enter the food chain - in this case, ground meat. When this happens within a huge meat processing plant, a single bad source can literally effect the product(s) of the entire plant. Since one unit of ground meat can consist of literally hundreds if not thousands of sources, entire batches that can add up to tens of thousands of pounds could have been theoretically contaminated, thereby initiating such massive recalls. The issues from Fast Food Nation go further into other issues (labor, environmental, etc) but I think as far as this thread is concerned...

    3 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      The problem with ground meat is well described by the previous post. Slaughterhouse meat has a high level of contaminants, such as E Coli, Salmonella, Listeria, etc. Diseased animals get slaughtered and ground. And other things end up in the meat during the process--intestines, fecal material, urine, vomit, etc. Not very appetizing.

      1. re: Lornaleigh

        irrc one scene even showed them adding ammonia to the ground meat in an attempt to keep the germ level down.. . . .

        1. re: westsidegal

          Yep. Beef Products Inc. takes tainted beef trimmings that were previously used for pet food or tallow, injects them with ammonia, then uses them as a component of ground beef.

          Another problem with commercially ground beef is that it's a recipe for food poisoning. A solid piece of muscle doesn't offer bugs much in the way place to be fruitful and multiply; it has to happen on the surface of the meat. Grind that muscle up, though, and the germs that were on the surface are now in the middle, where it's damp and dark. Let things get warm, and you've got an ideal environment for explosive bacterial growth.

    2. Made me decide to be a bit careful about what I eat next time I visit America.

        1. I couldn't open that NYT article -- but if it's anything like this, it's terrifying stuff, eh?

          I stopped buying ground beef... if I need it, I buy a chuck roast and get my butcher shop to grind it for me. I don't want to think about my burger being made up of scrapings from thousands of animals.