Friday, August 5, 2011

Turkey Recall & Why it's all Pharma's Fault

And here comes yet another reason for me to hate the Big Pharmaceutical companies.  Corruption in the inhumane meat-packing industry is encouraged by the evil empire I collectively call "Pharma" who provides US farmers with FOUR TIMES the amount of antibiotics than are consumed and prescribed by humans in the US so that they can keep raising their animals in nasty environments full of other animals that have died from disease and their own animal feces teeming with viruses.  Meanwhile the industrial "farmers" are feeding their animals foods that make them ill (CORN!) because it's cheaper to buy subsidized grain and subsidized antibiotics and pack animals into unhealthy environments than to raise and feed animals the right way.  (see The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan for more details- an EXCELLENT and highly informative book).  And then those corn farmers are encouraged by the government through subsidies to perpetuate the problematic feeding of animals and at the end of the day we are all fat and sick with salmonella from eating diseased animals and high fructose corn syrup all day.  But I digress...

Cargill is pretty much the embodiment of the Evil Empire and so when I heard that this week they recalled 36 MILLION POUNDS of ground turkey, I went right to their website to see what they had to say about it.  So after one death and a whopping 76 people coming down with salmonella (not fun at all), they released the following statements from their president of turkey processing, Steve Willardsen:

“Eliminating food borne illness is always our goal.”

==> Oh, really?!  Then how do you explain the DISGUSTING living conditions of your animals?!  How do you explain the fact that you are intentionally feeding your turkeys grains when they were biologically designed to eat grass and grubs and that the grains make them ill to the point that you MUST prescribe them antibiotics?  If you REALLY were interested in preventing disease, you would feed your animals properly in the first place and give them a -shocking!- sanitary place to live.

Our man, Steve, goes on:

"Cargill is contacting its customers to make certain they know which of their ground turkey products are affected by this recall…Cargill is working closely with its U.S. customers to make certain as much of the product is retrieved as possible"

==> Oh, right.  I'm expecting a phone call from Cargill any minute now, I'm sure they are VERY concerned about me and Mabel next door...

And finally:
“We all need to remember bacteria is everywhere..."

==>  In other words, get over it America!  Someone died?  Meh- people die everyday, its just germs!  Not our fault.  


I then looked to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and they had some interesting things to say:

'No hormones have been approved for use in turkeys. Antibiotics may be given to prevent disease and increase feed efficiency. In approving drugs for use in livestock and poultry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) work together. FDA sets legal limits for drug residues in meat and poultry. FSIS enforces the limits FDA sets for drug residues.

A "withdrawal" period is required from the time antibiotics are administered before the bird can be slaughtered. This [arguably] assures that no residues are present in the bird's system. FSIS randomly samples poultry at slaughter and tests for residues. Under the Federal meat and poultry inspection laws, any raw meat or poultry shown to contain residues above established tolerance levels is considered adulterated and must be condemned.'

[NOTE: SALMONELLA IS NOT CURRENTLY CONSIDERED AN ADULTERANT UNTIL IT ACTUALLY MAKES SOMEONE SICK!] the FDA and FSIS says its okay to give antibiotics not ONLY to prevent disease (interesting that it is used to PREVENT disease, not TREAT disease, since they already know that disease is inevitable in their improperly treated animals!) but antibiotics can also be used to "increase feed efficiency."  So this is their license to give animals bad food because its cheaper.  AND I read this as meaning its also okay to give animals antibiotics to help them fatten up quicker, which it does.  And for Cargill, the less time an industrial farmer needs to be feedings their turkey before the slaughterhouse, the better...or at least the cheaper.  And yet again, Cargill the evil empire of food robs the consumer and makes us ill all at the same time.

And clearly this "withdrawal period" is not really working out so well if people are STILL getting sick and STILL showing resistance to common antibiotics as a result of over-exposure via permissible drug residue in our food. 

And then there was NPR to shed some additional light on the issue:

'In 2008, the government found that 78 percent of turkeys testing positive for salmonella were contaminated with strains resistant to at least one type of antibiotics. The USDA says antibiotics may be given to turkeys "to prevent disease and increase feed efficiency."        [so you'll get sick and then your own antibiotics won't work!]

The size of the latest outbreak has renewed calls for the government to take action against the use of antibiotics in healthy food animals.'

Let's hope the outcries can even make a tiny dent this time in the major structural problem our food system has.  But I'm sure Pharma won't let than happen any time soon, so don't count on it.


Rachel J said...

Remember how good that steak from that guy's small cow farm in Utah was?--how it was 8 billion times better than any other meat ever(I'm pretty sure I was with you--this guy lived in Courtside and his name escapes me) You can tell in so many ways that what we're doing to these animals is not how it's supposed to be. It's really sad.

Kelli said...

Nice reporting. I had not linked the increasing number of resistant strains of infection to the amount of antibiotics we eat in our meat. This comes at a great time for me, I have been thinking about "slow foods" and what I can do better in that area. It seems "eat meat sparingly" has a greater importance than we realized. Love you:)