How Safe is Our Food?

May 8, 2012
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American beefMore and more countries are banning imports of American food products for safety reasons.

Last week, Indonesia became the first country to halt imports of US beef following the discovery of an American dairy cow infected with mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The disease is fatal to cows and can cause a deadly brain disease in people who eat tainted beef.

“We will lift the ban as soon as the US can assure us its dairy cows are free of mad cow disease,” said Rusman Heriawan, Indonesia’s vice agriculture minister. “It could be one month or one year. It depends on how long it takes to resolve this case.”

One would think the US government would immediately test beef to make sure it’s safe. But the USDA, which regulates the test, administers it to less than 1% of slaughtered cows. Worse, until 2007 it was illegal for private beef producers to test their own cows for the disease! Larger meat companies feared that if smaller producers tested their meat and advertised it as safe from mad cow disease, they too might be forced to test all their cows—so they persuaded USDA to block individual producers from doing the test. In 2007 a federal judge said this practice could no longer stand.

The highest risk occurs if animals or humans eat infected brain or nerve tissue. Meat unconnected to bone, milk, and hooves are supposed to be safe, but who knows for sure? The ultimate source of mad cow, of course, is the filthy and disease-ridden (not to mention inhumane) conditions in CAFOs, or concentrated animal feedlot operations.

In February, Taiwan began refusing meat products from the US because they contain ractopamine, a leanness- and growth-promoting drug used widely in pork and beef production in the United States. Taiwan has a zero-tolerance policy for the drug.

Ractopamine is banned in 160 nations including Europe because it is responsible for hyperactivity and muscle breakdown in pigs, and a 10% increase in their mortality rate. It was banned in China after more than 1700 people were “poisoned” from eating American pigs that had been given ractopamine. The drug bears the warning label, “Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask’’—yet somehow it is considered safe in human food. How is this possible?

Most of the world’s developed countries ban, or have at least placed limits on, genetically modified organisms. The European Union and its member states, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Brazil, and Paraguay all have restrictions or outright bans on the use or importation of genetically engineered seeds, plants, or foods. A detailed map with the specific products banned in Europe is available here.

This is one reason the California Right to Know 2012 Ballot Initiative is so important. If California requires labeling products containing GMOs, it will be difficult for most manufacturers to create separate labels for their products sold in other states, so the labeling will become national. This is why we are trying to help the Right to Know Campaign raise one million dollars to drop a “money bomb” on Monsanto—to combat the anti-GMO propaganda and get this proposition passed in November. If you haven’t done so already, please make a donation to the Right to Know Campaign—and please give generously!

Click here to donate today!

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13 Responses to “How Safe is Our Food?”

  1. brad roon says:

    Amazing. We spend more money researching ways to grow everything by cheating and trying to eliminate nature and variation from the cultivation and processing of all our foods. With all this effort you’d think we could come up with something better than possibly the worst AG system in the world.

    On the other hand, sustainable organic and permaculture have incredibly vibrant and productive growth and promote health so intensely as both a living style and a health benefit from consumption. Since neither are really benefited by corporate management, neither is interesting to the moneys that be.

    Think about this: other than bigotry – EVERY world class problem is caused ultimately by rich guys/gals being greedy. Wars, nuclear power, toxic food, toxic water, toxic air, missing one third (+) of our planetary oxygen, poverty, the economic “crisis”, hunger, and on and on.

    We need to stop supporting this mindless agenda of the rich sociopaths.

    As for the economic crisis, when the wealthiest 2% OWN 48-52% of the wealth on the planet and control from 92 – 96% through their leverage, do you really think they could not fix this mess in less than a week if they so chose? They like fire sale prices. They like that our little “economic turn – around” has given the 40 wealthiest people in America 94% of that increase in the economy. The other hundreds of millions of us split that other 4 to 8 %.

    Rebel against the rich and corporations and their govt whores.

       3 likes

  2. DyeDiet says:

    Yes… Bacterial and GMO risks is ONE side of the problem. The other side is CHEMICAL risks we take with over 7000 food additives approved by FDA. According to the FDA reports 12,418,450.57 pounds of FD&C colorants were certified in the year 2000 and staggering 20,866,071.50 pounds in 2011 indicating some 8.5 million pounds increase over the last decade!

    Is this safe to eat? Be my guest, read more about HOW TO avoid potentially dangerous food chemicals at DyeDiet dot com.

       0 likes

  3. Dave K, Phoenix, AZ says:

    The FDA is clearly an out of touch federal agency that consistently rules against the health and interests of the American people to support those of big business. We need a federal agency that will look out for the interests of the rest of us. These are the same people that think that marijuana will kill you and that pink slime and genetically modified foods are good for you. I’m willing to bet that they serve neither at FDA potluck dinners although they expect the rest of us to quietly sit and eat them… The reasonable alternative is for our states to make these decisions rather than to have the FDA make their decisions about what is good for big business.

       0 likes

  4. This is excellent news, and I hope it will push American producers toward growing higher-quality food for us and the rest of the world. However, the idea of China banning contaminated food, after the tainted crap they have manufactured and sold themselves, is ironic to say the least.

       0 likes

  5. meg says:

    You have some flawed information here. mad cow does not come from CAFO conditions, it is a prion disease, which DOES come from ingesting infected brain and spinal tissue, primarily scrapie infected sheep fed to cattle, Scrapie has been all but eradicated in the US and the BSE case in California was NON typical and the cow came from Canada originally. There are NO HORMONES allowed in pork production and have not been since 1960. The practice is against Federal LAW.

       0 likes

    • dez says:

      Big corporate entities are law unto them selfs and if you expect the FDA, USDA, or EPA to do anything your dreaming and heads are all Obama appointees.

         0 likes

  6. fixer says:

    I really wish a million dollars would make a dent in Monsantos attack. They would spend many millions to not lose a foothold on their plan to control most food. The problem lies with our government that passes customized legislation to the highest bidder. Stop all monies to our elected officials and they will once again work for us.

       0 likes

  7. Rebeccah says:

    Please take PayPal for donations. I have tried to donate a couple different times, but I am not comfortable giving out my CC info on the internet.

       1 likes

  8. Karin Rada says:

    Factory farms should be outlawed. They are unsanitary and inhumane!

       1 likes

  9. Luvenia says:

    Smart move on their part. If it comes from America including from Wall Street and the Bankers, do NOT buy into it. I only wish we could do the same thing.

       1 likes

  10. Jenifer Parker says:

    I would be willing to bet if that cow wasn’t ‘caught’ (by someone that couldn’t be BOUGHT) it would have gone into EITHER people food or dog/cat food. Wanna bet? Used to be we worried about food from CHINA , now it’s from the good ‘ole US of A.

       1 likes

  11. Tina says:

    I am really sickened by the thought of all the bad things in the US meat. I cannot beleive that the FDA and Congress don’t have families of their own, and want them to eat healthy nutritional products instead of drug filled meat and polluted vegetable etc. It is really sickening that we have to teach our children that but it will only help them in the long run. Thank You FDA for all your support!

       1 likes

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