Beware: the recent safety recall of 1.8 million pounds of beef has shown that the debate around sustainable farming is more necessary than ever. McDonald’s is a key voice in this debate because they are the largest purchaser of beef in the world. Issues surrounding cloned meat, antibiotics and hormones, irradiation, and food poisoning are swirling in a maelstrom of consumption.
The economic flow of unlimited expansion has placed a huge demand on cattle farmers. Many tactics have been created to boost beef production to satisfy this market. Cloned cells from dead cows are used to breed new cows that fit the desired model of fast-growing, quality beef. Meat and milk from offspring of cloned cows is not required to be labeled. This practice has infiltrated the world’s beef industry without public support to feed the appetite for beef. Not talking about cloning is the best way to lull Americans into forgetting where their meat comes from.
An amazing 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. goes into animal feed. Although it is claimed as a method for disease prevention, the biggest motivating factor is that the drugs encourage growth. Advocates are petitioning McDonald’s to say no to this treatment, and open up a more sustainable market. They may choose to do so for financial reasons. The fact is that 160 countries around the world have banned American meat. The U.S. economy is suffering for it, but has yet to change the practices that led to the bans.
One of the reasons for the widespread refusal of American meat is the chemical ractopamine, which the U.S. uses in 80 percent of its farms to create leanness in animals. The controversial chemical is cloaked with the name paylean (pigs), optaflexx (cattle), and topmax (turkeys). The effects of this chemical on humans are known to be an elevated heart rate, but beyond that very little is known. The United Nations food standard, Codex, certified ractopamine safety on the basis of one study done on six people. However, since one person dropped out due to adverse effects the study was not able to get much data. In America this drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after receiving tests done by the company Elanco. Elanco is the company that manufactures ractopamine, and is not an objective choice for the study. However, for years Americans have seen the FDA capitulate to the greed of the industry they should be regulating. The practice of swapping regulatory positions for board room positions has yet to be made illegal. Beware consumers, rampant corruption is turning up in poisoned beef, and it is up to the consumer to demand safe food.
However, bacteria and parasites are not the only issue with U.S. beef. The FDA approved use of hormones to stimulate growth has adversely affected America’s children, but not in the European Union where hormone-treated meat is banned. Children are experiencing puberty as early as age five in the U.S. The steroids, quick-growth hormones, and antibiotics in meat are most likely contributing to childhood obesity, early onset diabetes, and drastically early puberty. These physical changes’ role in the developmental psychology of children has not been studied being that America is in denial about the toxicity of their food. The chemical cocktail of American nutrition leads one to consider the possible correlations with increased autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
These facts may seem daunting, but the 2008 documentary, Food Inc., does a great job of explaining how the U.S. food production became so unhinged. Fundamentally, when the tenants of unlimited economic expansion are valued over quality of life, anything goes on the road to profit. Knowingly poisoning your customers and then selling them pharmaceutical symptom-suppressors has proven to be a get rich quick business model for America. However, the loss of international business may go a long way towards checking this business plan. So it’s your turn, beef industry, to beware the wrath of the knowledgeable consumer who puts safety before consumption.
Opinion by Grace Pollari