Natural Cures Not Medicine: 09/23/13

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The Inconvenient Truth About Rising Food Fraud and Contamination

By Dr. Mercola

When you buy processed meat, whether from your local grocer or a restaurant, what are you really getting?

That's a very valid question these days, as one meat-related scandal after another has been revealed. Most recently, at least 16 people in the US have been sickened from salmonella-tainted ground beef, and in the UK, many got sick to their stomach when it was discovered beef burgers contained horsemeat.

New DNA sequencing technology now allows regulatory agencies to inexpensively make this determination.

From the standpoints of health, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability, there's really only one type of meat I recommend: organically raised, grass-fed or pastured. This applies to all types of meat, from fowl to beef, and related animal products such as eggs and dairy.

Tesco Apologizes for Selling Burgers Containing Horsemeat

On January 17, BBC News1 reported that the supermarket chain Tesco had placed full-page ads in several national newspapers, apologizing for selling hamburgers found to contain nearly 30 percent horse meat. A majority of tested beef burgers also contained pig meat, as did over 30 other processed beef products, including cottage pie, beef curry pie, and lasagna.

"The supermarket giant said it and its supplier had let customers down and promised to find out 'what happened,'" BBC writes. "So here's our promise. We will find out exactly what happened and, when we do, we'll come back and tell you. And we will work harder than ever with all our suppliers to make sure this never happens again."

While horse meat does not pose a health risk per se, many are disgusted by the thought of eating horse, much like you'd shun cat or dog meat. The discrepancy was discovered by Irish food inspectors. Horse meat was also found in burgers sold by Iceland, Lidi, Aldi and Dunnes. The stores have reportedly removed all products from the meat supplier in question.

Burger King in the UK has also issued a statement saying it has replaced the meat supplier. According to Reuters:2

"'This is a voluntary and precautionary measure,' Burger King, famed for its flame-grilled burgers, said. 'We are working diligently to identify suppliers that can produce 100 percent pure Irish and British beef products that meet our high-quality standards.'"

According to Reuters, the source of the contamination is thought to be “a beef based product bought from two third-party suppliers outside of Ireland.” This highlights one of the most basic problems with mass-produced meat products.

The final product is a jumble-toss of meat and scraps from multiple sources, making the risk of contamination of huge amounts of meat very high – whether the contamination is a type of meat that doesn't belong, or contamination with a pathogen. It also makes tracing the contamination back to its source all the more difficult.

Overall, it's important to realize that the more steps your food goes through before it reaches your plate, the greater your chances of contamination becomes. If you are able to get your food locally, directly from the field or after harvest, such as directly from a farmer or farmer's market, you knock out numerous routes that could expose your food to contamination.

Several Sick After Eating Contaminated Ground Beef

Case in point... In the United States, federal health officials recently reported that at least 16 people in five states were sickened by ground beef contaminated with salmonella.3 About half of them required hospitalization, but none have died so far. Seven of those afflicted ate Kibbeh – a raw ground beef dish – at an unnamed Detroit restaurant.

Again, the contamination was scattered around a very large area: Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention4 (CDC), the outbreak is linked to a recent recall of more than 1,000 pounds of ground beef from Gab Halal Foods and Jouni Meats, both based in Michigan.

Each year, an estimated one in six Americans become ill from consuming contaminated food. Sometimes this results in a 24-hour bout of diarrhea and vomiting that clears up on its own, but in other cases foodborne pathogens can lead to organ failure, paralysis, neurological impairment, blindness, stillbirths and even death.

While the majority of food contaminations are linked to imported foods, the mere fact that a food is manufactured on U.S. soil does not guarantee its safety. Most of the meat sold in U.S. grocery stores and restaurants comes from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which can house tens of thousands of animals (and in the case of chickens, 100,000) under one roof, in nightmarish, unsanitary, disease-ridden conditions. It's under these conditions that foodborne pathogens flourish, and indeed studies have shown that the larger the farm, the greater the chances of contamination.

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